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School Board shows a changed face

During Thursday's annual reorganization meeting, the Lewiston-Porter School Board reflected a new look -- with two experienced and three newly elected members running the show.

James Sperduti, Michael Gentile and Keith Fox were sworn in as board members after being elected to the board in May. They joined two-year board veterans Robert L. Laub and James Mezhir.

The board was smaller by two. Saturday night, board members Edward M. Lilly and Scott A. Stepien were ousted for failing to take a required six-hour financial oversight course under a new state law adopted in 2005.

Lilly, who has served 10 years on the board, and Stepien, who has served one, said they are appealing that decision to State Education Commissioner Richard Mills.

Thursday, the new board elected Laub president and Mezhir vice president. Laub replaces David S. Schaubert, who served as president for the past two years.

Louis M. Palmeri, the board's last vice president, and Schaubert did not run for re-election this year.

Asked whether the board would consider holding a special election to fill Lilly and Stepien's board seats, Laub said, "Since they are appealing this, I think it would be inappropriate at this point to even comment, let alone discuss filling their board seats. We'll wait until the commissioner makes a ruling one way or another."

The two board officers said they expect to meet with the newly elected board members and initiate a search for a new superintendent.

The district has been without a superintendent since Whitney K. Vantine left to work for a Long Island school district in the summer of 2005.

Assistant Superintendent Don W. Rappold has been doing double duty ever since, not only handling district finances, personnel and operations, but also acting as interim superintendent.

"We haven't commenced a search for a superintendent yet," Laub said. "We need to talk to our board colleagues first before we decide how to go about it. We expect to do that very soon."


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