OSWEGO — The Oswego City School District Board of Education has new leadership heading into the 2019-2020 school year after the district’s annual reorganization meeting on Monday.
In two unanimous votes with no debate, Heather DelConte and Kathleen Allen were put forth as the only candidates for president and vice president, respectively, and duly elected after their nominations by veteran board member Samuel Tripp.
DelConte was sworn in as a board member moments before her nomination for president was affirmed. She and fellow board member Lynda Sereno are returning to the governing body this year after their election in May’s combined board and budget referendum. DelConte and Sereno both previously served on the board from 2013-2016.
“Heather and Lynda have served the district before, they’re both really student-centered, really inclusive, collaborative people,” said Superintendent Dr. Dean Goewey on Monday. “I think experience contributes greatly to board success – it’s always best for new board members to sit back and learn for a year or two before they step into a leadership role.”
DelConte and Sereno replace outgoing board President Aimee Callen, who declined to run for a second three-year term, and outgoing board member Jim Bell, who did the same.
“I am humbled by the confidence fellow board members have placed in me,” DelConte said in an interview with The Palladium-Times. “I am ready to listen, learn, and work cooperatively inside the board and with administrators, classroom teachers and other hardworking personnel that we rely on to serve the young people of our district.”
DelConte also serves currently on the Oswego County Legislature but is not running for re-election and has said she will complete the remainder of her term that expires on Jan. 1, 2020. She holds degrees from Cornell University and along with her husband, State Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte, and four children, own and operate Black Creek Farms in Volney.
Now retired, Sereno spent her entire career in central New York education as a teacher and administrator and says she is “excited to be back.”
“We want to work collaboratively as a board and listen and understand each other’s points of view and look for win-win situations, “ Sereno said, adding “new building projects” were a topic she looked forward to working on.
At Monday’s reorganizational meeting, board members volunteered for and were assigned to committees for policy, facilities and audit. The policy committee consists of DelConte, Allen and Brandon Lagoe; the facility committee of Tom Ciappa, Tripp and Sereno; the audit committee of Brian Chetney, Lagoe and Tripp.
Absent from committee assignments Monday was the district community relation committee, formed last year by then-president Callen. Goewey said committees other than the three constituted Monday could be explored in the future.
Goewey also said he had a great deal of confidence in DelConte’s ability to lead the board as its presiding officer.
“Heather’s service on the county Legislature has informed her greatly around Robert’s Rules of Order and formality of the meeting that we have a desire to get back to,” Goewey said. “This is going to be a breath of fresh air.”
Returning to the school board after serving in government has given DelConte a greater appreciation for the role of educational institutions in combating systemic problems, she said.
“After serving two terms representing Oswego on the county Legislature, I believe now more than ever that there is no single institution more important than our schools,” DelConte said. “They define entire communities and chart the course for their future. I am completely committed to being an active part of the process that will maximize the potential for OCSD to make its best contribution to the future of Oswego.”
The Oswego City School District Board of Education is the elected authority for all matters of district policy and governance. Its seven members serve three-year terms, elected in May.
In a special portion of the meeting, Howard Hall, a World War II U.S. Army veteran who attended Oswego High School in the late 1930s, was awarded an honorary high school diploma.
Hall, 99, who also played football for the Buccaneers was meant to be a part of the 1939 graduating class but instead answered the call of duty and left school early to join the American armed forces. He then went on to have a prosperous life with his family and five children.
Hall was joined by his relatives, members of the Board of Education, OHS social studies teacher and New York Army National Guard Colonel Ben Richardson and OHS Principal Pat Wallace.
Hall’s son John offered remarks for attendees on behalf of his father.
“A ceremony like today is important because he has children, grandchildren, great grandchildren watching in front of teachers, educators, bus drivers and custodials; people who touch children's lives every day,” John Hall said. “It is important to keep lifelong learning in front of us."