Wilmington Lake Placid school board member Gerald Blair, a former superintendent of the school system, spoke out during the public comment section of a school budget hearing May 1 at Whiteface Mountain’s base lodge.
Blair’s comments were the most extensive that a board member has offered at a public meeting in response to a long-running hail of public criticism from taxpayers.
The former superintendent addressed the outrage over the controversial actions of current school superintendent Randy Richards and the board’s apparent disinclination to remove him from his post.
“This is not something where I am against you, but I am sick and tired to hearing — week, after week, after week — about how terribly we are handling the situation. I’m telling you: The situations are being handled.”
“I’m in the business of education, only been there for 48 years,” Blair said in a characteristic aside.
“I’m speaking for myself. I’m not speaking for anyone else on the board. Maybe a few facts might be helpful.”
Blair addressed the comments of individual critics of the school board.
“Tim Kelley: ‘Current board members are consistently ignoring the desires of the taxpayers and the public, to continue to defend a superintendent who has cost the district untold dollars.’”
“I’m not exactly sure of the untold dollars,” Blair said. “I’m sure there must be millions that somebody knows about that I’m not familiar with.”
“Any cost that has been incurred in any Mulderig case, the insurance paid for the lawyer. I want to repeat that: Insurance paid for the lawyer,” said Blair.
Kelley responded in a letter to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
“Who pays for the insurance if not the district?” wrote Kelley. “Once an insurance company pays a claim it usually follows that the premium for the insured will then increase.”
Blair, again quoting Kelley, said, “Tim mentioned, ‘The board seems to almost be pleased, if not proud, to let an elementary position go.’”