An applicant files for Board of Ed seat

JULIE LANE PHOTO First hat in the ring for an appointment to replace Elizabeth Melichar on the Board of Education is Jason Lones’, seen here at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.
First hat in the ring for an appointment to replace Elizabeth Melichar on the Board of Education is that of  Jason Lones, seen here at Monday’s Board of Education meeting.

With the resignation of Elizabeth Melichar from the Shelter Island Board of Education, as reported last week, Jason Lones said Monday night he plans to submit a letter indicating his interest in completing the final two years of her term.

Ms. Melichar retired from her job with Eastern Suffolk BOCES and moved to Phoenix, Arizona. In a letter to the Board that President Thomas Graffagnino read at Monday night’s meeting, she praised the colleagues she’s worked with for the past seven years and Superintendent Christine Finn, expressing her confidence that the district was in good hands.

Mr. Lones had planned to run for the Board in May, but discovered he was a month short of the one-year residency requirement to launch his candidacy. He is a researcher for Duke University and also works for South Ferry.

He and his wife Ebeth Wilson Lones moved to the Island in July 2017, but they have long ties to the Island having spent time here over a 20-year period. Their son, Wilson, is enrolled at Shelter Island School.

“It is because of him and all his classmates and teachers that I have a vested interest in helping serve the school community and find ways to keep the school near the center of what we all enjoy about living on Shelter Island,” he told the Reporter in April.

Anyone else interested in the appointment to the open BOE seat should send a letter indicating interest and providing background  information by the end of July to Board Clerk Jacki Dunning at [email protected]

Members will then discuss the applicants and an appointment will come sometime next month.

The person appointed will complete the final two years of Ms. Melichar’s three-year term.

It came as a surprise to Mr. Graffagnino, but Linda Eklund, who has been his Board Vice President, opted not to seek re-election to that post, but will remain as a member of the Board.

She nominated member Kathleen Lynch to replace her with five votes endorsing the choice and Mark Kanarvogel abstaining.

Ms. Eklund has been a strong voice during budget meetings. Board members have consistently pointed to her expertise in business and financial matters that have helped them in assessing expenditures.

An example of that came Monday night when she asked her colleagues to re-examine whether the district might save money by purchasing its own bus to augment bus service provided by Sunrise Coach Lines. Several years ago, the Board examined that possibility, but concluded it would be more expensive.

Ms. Eklund said there may be ways to lower costs and circumstances may have changed. Among suggestions are getting staffers licensed to drive a district-owned bus; sharing that bus with the town; and, as Mr. Kanarvogel pointed out, having a district-owned bus serviced by the Highway Department.

Business official Idowu Ogundipe attended his final Board of Education meeting Monday night, having accepted a similar position in the Wyandanch School District near his home.

Mr. Kanarvogel noted that while others were out enjoying family time on July 4, Mr. Ogundipe was at his school office working on matters of transition so his successor would be prepared to pick up where he leaves off when he departs at the end of the month.

Mr. Ogundipe took the Wyandanch job to cut a lengthy commute.

While the Board of Education has minutes of meetings, Ms. Eklund told her colleagues she fears that a lot of the district’s history has been lost. She suggested the Board find a way to start recapturing special events relevant to the school and creating some sort of book or record that can track events and indicate what programs may have been abandoned for other programs.