MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – The Mount Vernon School Board may have a new president, but its mission remains unchanged: “provide a quality education for all students, regardless of their zip code.”
Acting Vice President Leonard Sarver has been sworn in as the new president of the School Board by district Clerk Richard McCormack following Gerald Whiteside’s unexpected resignation due to personal and professional responsibilities.
Whiteside’s resignation became official on March 6. Both he and Sarver were elected to the board in 2011. In his resignation letter, Whiteside thanked his fellow board members and interim Superintendent Judith Johnson.
“Serving has been an honor, a pleasure and deeply rewarding experience,” he wrote to Johnson. “To my board colleagues, I offer my sincere appreciation for your support, guidance and dedication to our mission. To Ms. Judith Johnson, with whom I have worked closely, I offer my sincere thanks for your dedication and vision, and your ability to inspire and encourage.”
Sarver takes the helm as the school district is in a period of upheaval. The district has announced a radical, multi-year restructuring plan that will transition schools to a “K-8” model. Meanwhile, teachers and administrators continue adjusting to the new state Common Core Learning Standards and it took affidavit votes to pass the budget by 20 votes last year.
“Despite our fiscal challenges, we have made great progress with investments in technology, adopting an enhanced curriculum and initiating a comprehensive plan to restructure the schools to optimize resources and increase student achievement,” Sarver said. “[The Board’s] mission is to provide a quality education for all students, regardless of zip code.”
The School Board is also in the process of searching for a permanent replacement for Johnson, who will retire at the end of the school year. Trustees are hosting a public forum with finalists from 6 to 11 p.m. on Wednesday at Holmes Elementary. Sarver said that appointing a new superintendent is among the most important roles he is taking on.
“One of the most important processes in which a school board president is involved is the search for and appointment of a new superintendent,” he said. “This is of critical importance to this school district at this time.”