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Calkins remains board president; Vice President Tom Flynn

Dr. Joan Calkins will continue to serve as Hamburg School Board president in 2012-13, but she will have a new vice-president at her side as Tom Flynn was approved by the board to serve in that capacity during Tuesday’s (July 10) organizational meeting.

Calkins was nominated by board member Matthew Dils as board president, the appointment was approved by a 5-2 vote, with newcomer Sally Stephenson and Holly Balaya, Stephenson’s daughter, voting against retaining her in the capacity for another year. Dils then offered Flynn’s name as vice-president and that was approved by a 7-0 vote. Flynn will replace Patricia Brunner-Collins in that position, who will continue to serve on the board after winning another three-year term in May.

Also during the meeting, Stephenson asked that the board table a motion to hire the firm Harris Beach LLP as the school’s attorney.

“There’s a conflict of interest in hiring them,” Stephenson said, adding that there are a number of lawsuits they are involved or may become involved in, including one involving petitioner Charles Mahoney attempting to have Dils removed from the board due to missing several meetings earlier this year.

“We need to look into other avenues,” Balaya said, adding she believes Harris Beach has given the district bad legal advice, including information on open meetings laws.

Balaya said the district has laid off personnel, including teachers, and she feels the board should look at ways to try and reduce legal fees.

Superintendent Steven Achramovitch said while he is not against the idea of putting out a request for proposal to bid out the services, that process alone takes a few months and he suggested to the board they appoint Harris Beach as the school’s legal representatives, at least for now, because the district must have an attorney.

“It’s a very complex process to have firms respond to an RFP,” Achramovitch said.

In terms of Harris Beach representing Dils, Calkins said they represent all board members.

Achramovitch added he believes the district should meet with Harris Beach to determine if there are levels of conflict of interest.

The board approved Harris Beach, LLP as its attorney by a 5-2 vote, and then subsequently voted to get RFP’s to see what options the district has.


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