Fitzpatrick to continue as Board of Education president

Published Jul 9, 2018 at 3:51pm

Paul Fitzpatrick is set for a third year as the Board of Education’s president.

Fitzpatrick was approved by board members to be president for the new 2018-19 school year, during the board’s annual reorganization meeting Friday afternoon. The school district’s 2018-19 year began July 1.

The other two board officer positions have changed. Stephen Hampe was approved as the board’s vice president, while Paul Hagerty was approved as board clerk. Hagerty had been board vice president for the past two years.

As part of several other annual approvals during the meeting, the board again appointed the law firm of Ferrara Fiorenza P.C. of East Syracuse as the school district’s legal counsel of record, after reviewing proposals from other attorneys as well. The board also appointed the Rochester-based LaBella Associates as the district’s new architect of record, after approving a contract with the firm on June 28 for architectural and engineering services.

Among topics:

• Fitzpatrick, starting his fourth year on the board overall after being re-elected in May to a second three-year term, said “three years will be enough” as board president. His plans are that “this will be my last year to seek the presidency.”

Fitzpatrick observed there are “other people qualified...other people talented” on the board, and “nobody is indispensable” in a given role. The president position is considered the board’s leader and spokesperson, presiding over board meetings while also working with the school district superintendent in reviewing topics to be addressed by the board. The board has nine members overall.

For the upcoming school year, Fitzpatrick cited “some things we need to work on” based on the board’s annual evaluation of district Superintendent Peter C. Blake. Over the summer the board will “establish what we want to accomplish” and “work out...goals” for 2018-19, he commented. Evaluation results for Blake will be announced soon, said Fitzpatrick, adding “we’re pretty much on the same page” regarding the district’s direction.

Fitzpatrick remarked he is looking forward to working with the board’s two newly elected members, Leigh Loughran and Jonathon Matwijec-Walda, whose three-year terms began July 1. Departing from the board was Karen Fontana, who did not seek re-election, while another seat became vacant earlier this year.

• While the district will continue with the Ferrara law firm as legal counsel of record, there will be some differences in the arrangements, said Fitzpatrick.

Plans include having someone from the firm working in-house at the school district a couple of days a week as part of the services, said Fitzpatrick, observing that details still are being worked out. Recent board discussions had included using legal services to help further with labor-related functions like personnel and contractual matters, as part of revisions in the district’s people operations department.

The board’s review of other potential law firms found that the Ferrara firm “seems to continue to be the best fit for us,” Fitzpatrick remarked.

A separate board review of proposals for architectural services had resulted in the LaBella Associates appointment, replacing March Associates of Utica which had been the school district’s longtime architect of record.