Two Onteora trustees resign from school board

By Jay Braman Jr.
Two trustees on the seven-member Onteora School District Board of Education resigned unexpectedly this week.
The news came at a special meeting of the board Monday when Michelle Friedel and Richard Wolff, both Town of Olive residents who are two years into three-year terms, sent word through written notice.
The statements, according to District Clerk Fern Amster, said only that both were resigning for personal reasons.
On Friday Friedel was asked if the two, simultaneous resignations were related.
“No,” she said, “Rick did what he decided to do and I did what I decided to do.”
Friedel, who refused to elaborate on her reasons for resigning, and Wolff, who could not be reached for comment, were the only remaining trustees of a solid majority of Olive residents on the board, a majority that ended last year when Trustees Mary Jane Bernholz, Rita Vanacore and Cindy O’Connor were soundly defeated in their re-election bids by current board members Laurie Osmond, Anne McGillicuddy and Ralph Legnini.
The three victors, from Woodstock, Shandaken and Olive respectively, all have children in the Phoenicia School, which was facing closure at the request of the school board under then President Bernholz.
When the Olive candidates held sway, they successfully blocked what was known as the large parcel plan, which if enacted by the school board would have lowered school tax for the towns of Shandaken, Woodstock, Lexington and Hurley but raised taxes in Olive. The proposal created a firestorm of resentment within Olive against a previous school board that was considering the plan.
In 2008 Trustee Herb Rosenfeld resigned from the board. In February of this year Legnini, who was board president resigned. Maxanne Resnick, who was appointed to the position of board president following Legnini’s departure, chose not to seek re-election. Her tenure ended on July 1.
The board can choose to do nothing, hold a special election, or appoint two people to fill the vacancies.