Schenectady County

Schenectady school board retains leadership

Schenectady got a new school board member and kept its longtime board president at Wednesday’s reorg

Schenectady got a new school board member and kept its longtime board president at Wednesday’s reorganizational meeting.

Cathy Lewis, who has led the board since her election in 2010, won the support of five of her colleagues. The sixth, Andrew Chestnut, again questioned the wisdom of sticking with the same leader for a fifth year.

“I don’t want to vote against Cathy,” he began. “I do believe we benefit from more than one person’s leadership skills.”

He abstained from the vote. Every other member voted for Lewis, and Chestnut did not nominate anyone to run against her.

Likewise, the board decided to keep John Foley vice president for another term.

Chestnut also was the only one to not vote for Foley.

“I’m going to abstain again, thank you,” he said.

Wednesday’s meeting was technically the first of the new school year for the board, so new board member Dharam Hitlall was sworn in. Also sworn in was board member Cheryl Nechamen, for her second term.

Hitlall, who has an infant son, said he wanted the board to take up the issue of bullying.

“That’s a serious issue in Schenectady schools,” he said, adding that he’s open to discussing creative solutions. “I want to try to fight against bullying. Discuss it with the rest of the board members and see what changes we can make with the teachers and home as well.”

Tanya Hall, a new board member who was sworn in just after the May election to fill a vacant seat, said she was thrilled by one of her first duties — attending graduation.

All the speakers at the ceremony had “great words of encouragement,” she said, before adding that she was truly impressed by the graduates’ shoes.

“The shoes that went across the stage! I didn’t know whether I was at church, a concert or a fashion show,” she said.

Foley noted more students wore flats this year, forgoing shaky heels.

And thank goodness, Lewis said.

“We’ve always been a little afraid they’re going to fall off the stage,” she said.

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