Fraterrigo is new VP of Guilderland’s school board, and five seats at play in May 

Altamont Enterprise file photo by Elizabeth Floyd Mair 

Longtime school board members Barbara Fraterrigo, left, who was recently elected vice president, and Judy Slack, chat in the Guilderland Elementary School gym while awaiting election results in 2017.

GUILDERLAND — Barbara Fraterrigo was elected on Feb. 11 to serve as vice president of the Guilderland School Board, in a unanimous vote. She is the board’s longest-serving member.

Two short-term board members — Timothy Horan and Sean Maguire — resigned on Tuesday. The board, which usually has nine members, will continue to operate as a seven-member board through May, when five seats will be at play in the school elections. 

Board President Seema Rivera said at the meeting that the board had discussed it and agreed that there was not enough time before the May 19 election to seek interest from the public, hold public interviews, and appoint someone, particularly since the board needs to hammer out a proposed budget during that same period. (See related story.) 

The May election, Rivera said at the meeting, will “fill up all the spots.” The posts are unpaid.

Fraterrigo, who was nominated by Kelly Person, replaces Horan as vice president. Fraterrigo has served on the school board since 1997, including several years as board president, and on the public library board since 1988. 

“It’s a very interim appointment, to help out,” Fraterrigo said on Wednesday via FaceTime from the Cayman Islands. She had voted from there, via computer, at Tuesday night’s meeting. “Obviously we’ll have a full complement in May and have a new president and vice president,” she said. 

Fraterrigo isn’t necessarily planning to run for office again at that time unless it’s helpful, she said. 

Asked her priorities as vice president, she said, “Nothing in particular. You know some of the issues I have lobbied for, but whether president or vice president, no one person has any more authority than anybody else. It’s a board of nine, and we work collectively.” 

Several of the issues she is working on now, Fraterrigo said, are changing to a later start time for the high school, and trying to make a financial literacy course a requirement for graduation. 

Young people need exposure to the world of mortgages, student loans, car loans, health insurance — “life skills that you really need, to function,” she said.

Horan resigned from the school board effective Feb. 11, board Clerk Linda Livingston told The Enterprise. He had cited new work responsibilities after taking on a part-time position, Rivera told The Enterprise, adding, “He was ready to move on; I think he felt he had done as much work as he could.” 

Horan had been on the board for fewer than three years; he was the highest vote-getter in a five-way contest for three seats in May 2017. 

Horan told The Enterprise he has been doing various freelance jobs, mostly test scoring, and that in the spring he will also do mowing and landscaping jobs. 

He listed many people with whom he had enjoyed working over his time on the board and on various committees. He liked working with Christine Hayes and “missed her fairness and wisdom when she left the board last summer, he said. “Mrs. Fraterrigo is the backbone of the Policy Committee and it was a terrific learning experience to watch her chair the meetings,” he said.

Horan often thinks back on something he said former board member Chris McManus mentioned when he resigned early in Horan’s first term — “the danger of groupthink.” 

Horan tried to speak up from time to time on various issues, he told The Enterprise, “but found that Chris McManus was correct in what he said about groupthink.” He added, “It's very hard to break through and is often a frustrating exercise in futility. When you spit into the wind for a long time, you just end up drowning.”

 Another board member, Sean Maguire, also resigned from the board effective Feb. 11. Maguire had also resigned very recently from the Guilderland Industrial Development Agency, where he was replaced by Lee Carman. He told The Enterprise at that time that he needed more time free to pursue other opportunities, and he soon afterward announced he had taken a new post as director of the Town of Colonie Planning and Economic Development Department. 

Maguire said this week that he was leaving the board of education because of a practical conflict: the planning board of the town of Colonie, with meetings he must attend as director of the PEDD, are on the same evening as the Guilderland school board’s. He thought it would be better, he said, to step down and give the opportunity to someone who would be able to attend more meetings. 

Of his departure from the IDA, Maguire said this week that he thought there would “certainly” be ethical challenges in reporting to two boards about economic development in neighboring communities. 

He is proudest of the work the board did, Maguire said, to rally from the defeat of the first vote on the board’s proposed capital project in October 2018 and its success in resetting a dramatically scaled-down version that passed in May 2019.

One of his concerns, he said, had been that the board had communicated to voters that some of the items in the project were intended to increase students’ “comfort” while learning, and had failed to communicate “the real essential nature of updating the facilities.” 

From this point on, Maguire said, he will enjoy being simply “an active and engaged parent.” He has two children in Guilderland schools. 

Of the five positions, three are for full terms; those will go to the top three vote-getters in the May elections. Those are the terms of Horan, Judy Slack, and Benjamin Goes. 

Maguire’s term would have been up in 2021. Rebecca Butterfield replaced former board president Christine Hayes, who resigned in August 2019, and whose term would also have been up in 2021. The candidates with fewer votes in May will fill out the remainders of Maguire’s and Butterfield’s terms, at one year each.

Candidates must be able to read and write, must be a qualified voter in the district; must be and have been a resident of the school district for at least one year prior to election; may not have been removed from any school district office within the preceding year; may not reside with another member of the school board as a member of the same family; may not be a current employee of the school district, except as permitted by law; and may not simultaneously hold another incompatible public office.

Livingston, the board clerk, already has the application packets that should be picked up by anyone interested in running. 

To run, candidates must get 82 signatures on petitions, which is 2 percent of the number of people who voted in last year’s election. Petitions are due, Livingston said, on April 20. 


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