Education

Three seek to repeat on Board of Education: Prestigious survey ranks HS in top 20% of nation

Three incumbent candidates are running again for seats on the Shelter Island Board of Education.

Board President Kathleen Lynch and members Margaret Colligan and Karina Montalvo all are seeking election. No other candidates have filed petitions to put their names on the ballot.

The top two vote getters will each be elected to three-year terms while the third person will be elected to a term expiring at the end of June 2022.

Ms. Lynch struggled with her decision, not because she hasn’t loved her service, she said, but because she completed her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling and is focusing on developing her new practice.

“It’s standard for psychotherapists to be a bit out of the spotlight,” Ms. Lynch said. As Board president, she has had to maintain a high profile in the community that she thought could interfere with her new vocation.

She expects not to seek the role of Board president at the July re-organizational meeting, but to continue to serve as a member. She plans to nominate Ms. Colligan to replace her as Board president, saying Ms. Colligan is “more than qualified and prepared to take over.”

She expressed pride in the district being able to remain open throughout the pandemic and said “being part of the team that made that happen feels good every single day.”

“I would love to see us continue to thrive and provide continuity for our kids, elevate what we’ve already done and, honestly, be here to see more joy and happiness return to the building,” she added. “We’ve been through a lot and I know we’re going to come out the other side stronger, more resilient and closer to each other than ever.”

Ms. Colligan is seeking a second three-year term.

Despite the pandemic that imposed requirements on district operations, she said the ability to persevere and remain functional and successful is attributable to the leadership and staff.

Ms. Colligan credits Superintendent Brian Doelger and teacher Walter Brigham with taking steps even before the March 2020 shut-down to transition to virtual learning and then seamlessly transition to in-school classes. Mike Dunning and his staff maintained the building to safely welcome students back and the Board of Education supported the installation of air filters, sinks and other needed materials and supplies to enable in-person classes.

“We worked as a unit to give our kids what they needed to thrive,” Ms. Colligan said. “Our teachers also banded together to make this as ‘normal’ an experience as possible. I guess I am most pleased to be a part of this Shelter Island educational family. We truly do have a family here. We work together.”

The prestigious US News and World Report ranking of schools out last week placed the Island’s high school program in the top 20% in the nation. “That’s a real tribute to the quality of personnel and the curriculum that they deliver,” Ms. Colligan said. “I would like to see that go forward. Our students have always excelled. Again, we deliver quality here because we are quality.” As a former high school English teacher, she said she understands the challenges and the work involved to be successful.

“Our teachers give us that every day and it shows,” she said.

Ms. Montalvo replaced Jason Lones on the Board in 2020 when he moved from the district. Now she seeks election on her own. She praised her fellow Board members and said they all bring a wealth of experience to the table. As the owner of a cleaning business, she said she knows what it takes to build an effective organization.

Ms. Montalvo admits she was initially hesitant to join the Board, but is now glad she took the leap and looks forward to continuing to serve.

She has been a member of the Health and Wellness Committee and wants to continue to serve in that capacity in the years ahead. The election for Board of Education candidates and on the school district’s budget will be Tuesday, May 18, from noon to  9 p.m., in the school gymnasium. All registered voters are eligible to cast ballots.