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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 2, 2009

School-board veteran runs again

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — Come this May, John “Jack” Harlow, 66, looks to hold his seat on the Berne-Knox-Westerlo school board. Challengers for the three-year, unpaid post have until April 20 to get 25 signatures on a petition into the district office. Voters will have their say on May 19.

“My primary characteristic that would benefit the community is that I’m a very strong advocate for educational excellence,” Harlow told The Enterprise this week.

Harlow came onto the school board in the year 2000, after defeating incumbent June Springer. After five years of work for the district, he left the board for the 2005-06 school year.

On why he left the board that year, Harlow said, “At the time, I wanted to make sure there was a representative from Westerlo,” referring to Westerlo resident Maureen Sikule, who took her seat on the school board that year, and remains a member.

“And she is doing a great job,” Harlow said of Sikule. “There were concerns regarding the school in Westerlo, and, if I ran against her and won, then they would not have had a voice,” he said.

Harlow reclaimed his seat on the school board in 2006, when he defeated Robert Rue, Leo Vane, and college-bound BKW senior Judd Krasher. His term expires on June 30.

Harlow said this week that his goals on the school board, should he be re-elected, “relate primarily to the hiring of administrative personnel that we definitely need to have. That includes hiring an excellent secondary-school principal — good leadership, with a high level of competence...My objective would be to get someone that has a lot of energy and a lot of vision,” he said.

With regard to his past work on the school board, Harlow is particularly proud, he said, of his involvement in bringing foreign-language classes to the elementary school.

“But that didn’t come by my action alone,” he said. “There were a number of community members that brought it to the [Parent Teacher Association]. I want [the students] to be involved as early as possible, because, the earlier you start to learn the language, the more it sticks.”

Harlow, an engineer, got a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri. When he is not discussing BKW-related matters with his fellow school-board members, he is busy with Northeast Genesis Technologies.

“I’m a one-man operation,” he said. “I find things of value, and make them work; I sell them on eBay, primarily.”

He described the variety of items he sells: “I have sold very high-tech devices for precisely measuring electricity, and I’ve also sold vices for clamping metal chokes,” said Harlow. “The technical aspects of one are extremely sophisticated; the other is pretty simple,” he said.

Harlow also teaches free science classes upon request. “I just finished teaching magnetism at Germantown Central School District,” he said. His wife, Karol, is an administrator there.

All things considered, Harlow feels that he is the right man for the job.

“In my years of being a school-board member, I think I’ve been very consistent in trying to improve our educational approach at BKW,” he concluded. “If re-elected, I’ll continue to do the same thing. I am not focused on money,” he insisted. “I’m focused on educational excellence.”


District residents who are over the age of 18, are United States citizens, and are interested in running for the BKW school board may pick up a petition in the district office between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. A petition requires signatures from 25 supporters before its holder can run for school board.

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