Niskayuna school board welcomes new members

New president, vice president elected
Niskayuna school board candidate Brian Backus speaks during a forum held at the Little Theatre at Niskayuna High School.
Niskayuna school board candidate Brian Backus speaks during a forum held at the Little Theatre at Niskayuna High School.

Categories: News

NISKAYUNA — Niskayuna’s two new school board members, Greta Jansson and Kim Tully, took their positions on the board Tuesday night as the board dispensed with formal business to begin the new school year.

The board unanimously elected Howard Schlossberg, a physician elected to his second term on the board in 2018, as board president for the coming year. The board also selected Brian Backus, who was re-elected to a new term in May, to serve as vice president. Backus, Jansson and Tully all started terms that run through June 2022.

Schlossberg thanked his fellow board members and outlined goals to ease student stress, expand career and technical options, operate transparently and balance district needs with sustainable budgets.

“I want our kids to be less stressed, such as by decreasing homework and less of a relentless focus on college and grades,” Schlossberg said. “I want to continue to build on our focus on career, technica and military paths. I’d like to avoid controversy through transparency, openness and following our stated policies.”

He acknowledged his penchant for humor and levity – raising the president’s gavel and calling it “Orderkeeper” – and urged his fellow board members to focus on their chief priority: students.

“I will remind us that there is nothing wrong with having some fun as we serve the community,” he said in prepared remarks at the end of the meeting. “It doesn’t mean we don’t take our sworn oaths to the Constitution, state and nation seriously. It means we don’t take ourselves too seriously.”

The meeting, which started with annual reorganization business, also welcomed the district’s new assistant superintendent for instruction, Maria Digirolamo – currently director of world languages, social studies and English as a new language – to her new seat beside Superintendent Cosimo Tangorra Jr.

Digirolamo joined the Niskayuna district in 2014 after working as a school principal in Taconic Hills and as a foreign language teacher in Albany, Cohoes, North Colonie and Stillwater. She replaces Lauren Gemmill, who moved to the Capital Region BOCES.

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