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A Contested Board Race in East Hampton

Wed, 05/10/2023 - 20:35

Three candidates are running for two seats on the East Hampton School Board this year, making it one of only two contested races on the South Fork. The contenders are Emily Agnello, a first-time candidate who grew up in East Hampton; George Aman, a former board member seeking to return, and John Ryan Sr., an incumbent seeking a 10th term.

The contenders are Emily Agnello, a first-time candidate who grew up in East Hampton; George Aman, a former board member seeking to return, and John Ryan Sr., an incumbent seeking a 10th term.

Ms. Agnello, a graduate of East Hampton High School, is raising two children here. She has volunteered on the fund-raising committee of the Eleanor Whitmore Early Childhood Center and has also done fund-raising for A Walk on Water. A member of the site-based committee at the John M. Marshall Elementary School, she said she hopes to see the school’s dual-language program continue to thrive, and would like to address language lessons for students not enrolled in that program.

“I decided to run for the East Hampton board of education after attending a recent board meeting and seeing how many parents wanted to be heard and how few parents with children in the schools actually sit on the board of education,” Ms. Agnello said in an email to The Star. “I think that having parents on the board is crucial.”

Mr. Aman is a former superintendent of the Amagansett School, capping a decades-long career in which he started out as a math teacher and principal in Syracuse and later became an assistant superintendent in Riverhead. He has volunteered with Meals on Wheels and the Amagansett fire police, and happens to be a published poet and former marathon runner as well.

“I felt like I’d like to take a closer look, as a member of the board, at some of the things that are being done in preparing kids for being adults and running this country,” said Mr. Aman, who hopes to boost teaching on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution within East Hampton’s history curriculum. “I’d like the country presented as positive, rather than highly negative. I know there are some things in our history that we are not proud of that we have worked to change; on the other hand, I don’t think our country is as evil as some folks would have us believe.”

He would also like to see adult education programs return to East Hampton, and supports increased access, for older adults needing to stay active, to school facilities such as the track.

Mr. Ryan is a self-described “lifeguard for life,” having been a founding member of the East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue squad and longtime coordinator of the youth training programs for future lifeguards at the Y.M.C.A. East Hampton RECenter (he has been a board member there for 22 years). He had a 28-year teaching career, including 24 years in East Hampton, and has raised a family of educators: His six children,  three of their spouses, and two of his grandchildren are teachers, many in local districts. Mr. Ryan was first elected to the school board in 1993, served until 2011, and returned to the board in 2016.

“I’m going to stop when I get old,” he said in an interview. “I enjoy it, and I have the time. I think we’re a good school district, and I think I help. I think we’ve got a great administration, great staff, and great kids with great parents. I like working with young people. This is the best way to do it . . . I’m pro-education.”


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