HFM BOCES reappoints board members; elects board officers

Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES Board of Education President Joanne Freeman takes the oath of office during the annual organizational meeting on Wednesday. Freeman was reelected to the board in April and reelected as board president for the 2019-20 school year on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

JOHNSTOWN — The Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES Board of Education on Wednesday officially reappointed two board members who were reelected in April and elected board officers for the coming school year during the annual organizational meeting.

Board of Education members Joanne Freeman and Harry Brooks each took the oath of office on Wednesday, being sworn in for three-year terms after being reelected by the school boards of HFM BOCES’ component districts on April 17. The two incumbent candidates ran unopposed.

After Freeman and Brooks were officially reinstalled to their fourth and third respective terms on the board, HFM BOCES Interim District Superintendent Anita Murphy requested nominations for board president, with Freeman’s name quickly returned as the sole nomination and then approved by the board.

Freeman was again called to stand and take the oath of office, commencing her third straight school year as board president.

Freeman thanked the board and then resumed her role as president presiding over the meeting, calling for nominations for board vice president. Board members again returned the name of the previously seated vice president, Brooks.

Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES Board of Education Harry Brooks takes the oath of office during the annual organizational meeting on Wednesday after being reelected in April. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Rather than accepting the renomination, Brooks asked that his name be removed from consideration and instead nominated board member Jean LaPorta for the office.

“I’d like to nominate Jean and remove my nomination. Jean has been a long-standing board member and I know she has a lot of interest,” Brooks said.

After confirming with LaPorta her willingness to hold the office, Brooks’ motion was seconded and the board approved LaPorta’s election as vice president.

“Congratulations Jean, you’re now the vice president,” Freeman said.

“Thank you so much. I’m very pleased,” LaPorta said as the board and district officials offered their congratulations.

Murphy noted that LaPorta could not be sworn into the position until the next board meeting on July 24 as she was unable to be present at the organizational meeting on Wednesday, instead participating via speaker phone.

With the board appointments concluded, the board went on to formalize HFM BOCES’ organizational reappointments and reauthorizations for the 2019-20 school year.

Following Wednesday’s meeting Freeman expressed her gratitude for being reelected as board president saying, “It is such an honor and a pleasure.”

For the coming school year Freeman said she and the board will focus on ensuring HFM BOCES students, staff and component districts experience a smooth transition as David Ziskin officially takes over as district superintendent effective Aug. 5 after being appointed to the position by the board in May.

“For the first six months we’ll be focusing on the transition and training of Dr. Ziskin,” Freeman said. “The focus really this year is becoming one.”

Ziskin will replace Interim District Superintendent Murphy, the Capital Region BOCES district superintendent, who has led HFM BOCES since the retirement of former District Superintendent Patrick Michel last August.

Relationship building will be Ziskin’s primary task when he steps into the role next month, Freeman said.

“He’s building a one-to-one relationship with the board, with the administration, district and in September he’ll be starting to build relationships with our staff and our students,” she said.

Once Ziskin has become more familiar with the organization, Freeman said the board and district superintendent will look to guide one another to continue moving HFM BOCES forward.

“We’re just as strong as before Dr. Michel left and we’ve been very fortunate to have Anita as our interim district superintendent, because she really kept the ship steering in the right direction. Now it’s just people getting to know each other,” Freeman said.