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Jan 11, 2011 9:24 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Kerr Won't Seek Reelection To Remsenburg-Speonk School Board

Jan 11, 2011 9:24 PM

If Tom Kerr attends the Remsenburg-Speonk School Board meeting on June 13, it won’t be as the board’s most senior member.

At Monday night’s School Board meeting, Mr. Kerr announced that he will not be running for reelection to the board in the upcoming May election.

“Instead, I’m going to be the board’s conscience,” Mr. Kerr joked on Tuesday in his office at William G. Hentschel insurance agency in Westhampton. “I’ll still attend meetings, but I’ll do it on my time.”

While he’s looking forward to finally kicking back and watching football on Monday nights, Mr. Kerr said he’ll miss the post he’s held for the past 15 years—and he’ll still be closely following the school that he considers his own.

“I like to tell my friends who don’t live here that Remsenburg is the best public-private school on Long Island,” he said. “But I’m going to be 65 in February, and I felt it was my time. I think we need some new blood and some new ideas. It’s time for me to go. I’ve done the best I can do.”

The Remsenburg resident said he is extremely proud of the board’s vast accomplishments over the years, among them building several classrooms onto district’s sole elementary school in 1998 and hiring the last two superintendents, Dr. Ronald Masera and his predecessor, Dr. Katherine Salomone.

“We’ll be hard-pressed to replace his enthusiasm and work ethic that he’s given to the school,” said School Board President Kevin Federico.

Whether Mr. Kerr is on or off the board, he said there is one last task he feels obligated to see through: having the public approve a bond to finance additions to the school. Attempts to get the financing approved have failed numerous times. The most recent attempt, last month, was voted down by a razor-thin, 29-vote margin.

“My decision not to run allows me to say things about the bond,” Mr. Kerr said. “The defeat was very disappointing to me, and the major disappointment is that the parents of the kids who attend this school did not show up to vote—and they’re the ones who are going to be impacted the most. That just drives me up a wall.”

Mr. Federico and Lisa Fox, who will soon be the board’s senior member, have both said the School Board will revisit the effort and eventually craft a new expansion plan to be presented to voters.

“That was a huge issue for him,” Ms. Fox said. “If anyone has their heart in this kind of thing, he does. He’s going to be missed because he’s not just sensitive to everything—but he’s so knowledgeable. I’m so sad.”

Mr. Kerr said he has confidence in the remaining board members, and even though he’ll be watching them, it’s the new trustee he’ll have his eye on.

“The one who replaces me has to remember the children [come] first,” he said. “Otherwise, if they come on with an agenda, they will find it does not work.”

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They did show up to vote. Just because the vote didn't go the board's way don't assume it would of been different if more people showed up. I wish these school boards, who individually are not not qualified to run a business feel they know whats best. It's an ego thing. Remsenburg is a great school but lets not think they they cannot educate unless they build a bigger school. The school population has not changed in years. Learn to do your job without whinning about what you don't have. The rest ...more
By maxwell (169), speonk on Jan 19, 11 11:27 AM