Ever since Bob Rich announced his resignation just before May’s New Paltz School Board election, the question of who might replace him has been up in the air. So too has the question of who’d replace KT Tobin as school board vice president.
It turns out the answer to both of those questions shares the same name: Rod Dressel Jr. School board members appointed Dressel, a former president of the New Paltz Board of Education, to fill out the next year of Rich’s term. They also elected him as vice president.
Dressel has been off the school board since 2009, when he decided not to run for re-election.
Current board president Patrick Rausch, who was re-elected as president unanimously during July 11’s meeting, joked about why Dressel had returned.
“He was begged,” said Rausch, with a laugh and a smile.
Dressel himself put it a little more plainly. “I saw that a previous board member had to resign early from the board — so there was a vacancy. And I was called and asked if … I would be able to come back and serve for one year,” he said.
While the New Paltz Board of Education has made a practice of bringing back former board members as appointees — Barbara Carroll is an example — it is rare for an appointee to be suddenly elevated to the rank of vice president.
Part of that has to do with number of newcomers currently on the board. Stephen Bagley has just closed out the first year of his term; Ruth Quinn, Dominick Profaci and Brian Cournoyer all just became board members. Only Rausch and Edgar Rodriguez have more than one year of experience.
Typically, a school board vice president serves for two years before graduating to president. Rodriguez has never held an officer position on the board. Getting Dressel back on the board installs a seasoned veteran with presidential and vice presidential experience.
Even so, Dressel said he wasn’t using the appointment as a steppingstone to a 2013 re-election campaign. “My intentions are just to serve for one year,” he said.
Quinn, Profaci and Cournoyer all ran on a platform friendly to preserving school programs — a position made difficult by the potency of the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap. While Profaci, as the highest vote getter, was sworn in directly following the election, Quinn and Cournoyer were sworn in during last week’s meeting.
The two new board members admitted they’re trying to lead during difficult times.
“There’s no secret about the fact that we’re in very challenging fiscal times, and so my goal is to make sure that we maintain the integrity of our programs and keep the cuts as far away from our kids as possible,” Quinn said.
Quinn, Cournoyer and Profaci will serve terms lasting until 2015. Dressel’s seat is back up for re-election in 2013.
Outside of swearing in the newbies and electing officers, the school board also took care of a number of housekeeping items during their meeting — including setting the pay rates for substitute teachers and selecting official banks to be used during the year.