School Board President to Run for Third Term

Selection Committee Seeks Applicants for School Board

by Judy Silberstein

(January 29, 2009) In a departure from local custom, Mamaroneck School Board President Linnet Tse will be running for a third term. Although there are no legal term limits, board members have generally served a maximum of two three-year consecutive terms.

Robin Nichinsky will seek a second term, but Michael Jacobson is stepping down at the end of his first term. “I don’t think I can give the amount of time that I’ve been giving over the last three years,” Mr. Jacobson told the Gazette. “You shouldn’t take this job if you can’t give it your all.”

Mr. Jacobson informed the board of his plans in the fall, whereupon his colleagues urged Ms. Tse to consider a third term. “Especially in difficult times, I was worried about losing a board member with six years of experience,” said board member Rick Marsico. “I thought about that – and it turns out other board members thought that same thing.”

Linnet Tse
  Board President Linnet Tse

Given the economic stresses likely to beset the district for a least the next few years, Ms. Tse was also concerned about leaving a leadership gap, she said. “A lot more has been expected and demanded of boards because of scrutiny from New York State and because of the economic times,” she elaborated. “Our role has been changing. There is a lot more discussion - a lot more open debate – and these are changes we hope will take root,” she said.

Ms. Nichinsky said, “I found the work important and meaningful and am looking forward to continuing that in the next three years.”

NIchinsky
 Board Member Robin Nichinsky

Ms. Tse and Ms. Nichinsky will be applying to the Committee for the Selection of Mamaroneck School Board Nominees, which since 1945 has operated independently of the school district to recruit, screen and endorse board candidates.

Additional School Board Candidates Wanted

The committee has issued its annual call for potential candidates to submit applications by the March 1 deadline. Information is available online at www.selectioncommittee.org under "Membership Information." The committee's deliberations and names of applicants are kept in confidence, except for its nominees, which are typically announced in early April.

Candidates may also run for the board independently, without going through the Selection Committee.

To find candidates this year, the Selection Committee has posted notices in local media and school handouts, put out a flyer, and updated its website. It is also depending on word-of-mouth.

``Given the economy and the enormous responsibility of School Board members, it’s not easy to find people, so we started the process a lot earlier this year, worked closely with the schools, and tried to make ourselves as educated, accessible and friendly as possible,’’ said Sunny Park Suh, co-chair of the Selection Committee and a Murray Avenue School parent. Her co-chair is Susan Barragan, who has children at Mamaroneck Avenue School and Hommocks.

The Selection Committee met this fall with Superintendent Paul Fried, with a panel of School Board members and with PTA Council co-chairs ``to truly understand the roles and responsibilities of School Board members,’’ said Ms. Suh.

The ideal candidate, according to Ms. Suh, is a team player and good communicator who is passionate about the schools, knowledgeable about the issues, can synthesize large amounts of information – and has at least 10 hours a week and two Tuesday evenings a month to devote to board business.

Selection Committee members themselves are elected on ballots set up at the schools on the day of the School Board and budget vote. There are six representatives from each of the four elementary school districts. Members serve staggered, three-year terms, and there will be approximately seven openings on the committee this spring.

Those interested in applying for the School Board or the Selection Committee can get more information from the website, by calling Vice-chair Nancy Joselson at (914) 777-3127, or by emailing info@selectioncommittee.org.