PINE BUSH – The election of Kristi Kheiralla to the Pine Bush School board in May set off inevitable changes in the board's organization. At their reorganization meeting this past Tuesday, July 11, those changes were the first order of business when Roseanne Sullivan nominated Peter Agro for the job of board president.
With good grace, bowing to the inevitable, Lloyd Greer — PBSD's conservative board president for the past few years — seconded the motion. Agro then received a unanimous vote for the position. Next came a nomination for Gretchen Meier, by Lloyd Greer, for the vice presidential role that she has filled in recent years. However, Kheiralla then nominated Dori Johnson for the post at which point Meier withdrew her name from consideration and Johnson was voted VP unanimously.
In some ways this move reflected changes in the Pine Bush School District over the past few years, a time of stress, turmoil and recovery including settlement of a much-publicized lawsuit alleging a lack of concern over anti-Semitic bullying, then the furor over a botched recitation of the pledge in different languages that made national news when people revolted at the idea of having Arabic spoken over the school's airwaves.
One superintendent retired, and longstanding Pine Bush presence Joan Carbone took over as superintendent to reach out to the Anti-Defamation League to help with a districtwide "No Place For Hate" campaign. Last year Carbone retired and a lengthy search process brought Tim Mains to the district, continuing the healing.
The nation's political currents, however, swirled back into local focus again this past winter when a resolution was proposed and defeated stating district-wide opposition to the appointment of Betsy DeVos as US Education Secretary, a motion that passed other districts around the state easily. At Pine Bush, conservative board members voiced strong opposition to the resolution introduced by Sullivan, who noted that it had been written by the state association of school boards, and the measure went down on partisan lines. Matt Watkins, former board member, lost his seat in the May elections to Kheiralla.
The board now consists of Agro, Johnson, Sullivan, Kheiralla, Meier, Greer and Cara Robertson.