Role of the Board of Education

The Onteora Schools Board of Education consists of seven dedicated volunteers, who are elected to staggered three year terms. The Board is responsible for several key areas: establishing policy; defining District priorities and goals; monitoring and evaluating progress; approving contracts, bonds and the annual budget; and selecting and evaluating the Superintendent of Schools.

Establishing Policy
The Board sets policies that govern the education of all children attending our district's five schools, as well as the day-to-day operations of the District. Click here for the policy handbook. 

Defining Priorities and Goals

In collaboration with the Administration, the Board defines annual District priorities and establishes specific goals, rationale and expected outcomes. It delegates to the Superintendent of Schools (the District's chief executive officer and educational leader) the authority to develop, operate and manage the educational programs to meet these goals.

Monitoring and Evaluating Progress

The Superintendent and Central Administration regularly update the Board on progress towards goals, and Board meetings and study sessions are often devoted to presentations highlighting work in specific areas.

Approving Contracts, Bonds and the Annual Budget

The Board guides negotiations with the District’s five bargaining units and approves all final collective bargaining agreements and employment contracts, as well as vendor contracts.

The Superintendent, with some guidance from the Board and in concert with his/her staff, prepares and presents a recommended budget to the Board. After discussion and input from the community, the Board is responsible for approving a final budget to be presented for a community vote. The Board strives to approve a budget that effectively balances costs with maintaining Onteora's high instructional standards for students and staff.

Selecting and Evaluating the Superintendent

Perhaps the most critical responsibility of a Board of Education is to select and evaluate the Superintendent. The Board provides regular feedback and a formal annual review.

Serving on Committees and as Liaisons

Each board member serves on a number of committees, as well as a liaison to District schools and community groups. Click here for a list of committee assignments and liaison positions. 

The Board of Education can be contacted at any time via e-mail at

Meet the Board Members

Kevin Salem - President

Kevin was born and raised in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. After attending the University of Pittsburgh, where he studied psychology and anthropology, he moved to Boston and continued his career as a musician, composer, and record producer. In 1990, he moved to New York City, often residing temporarily in Woodstock, where he recorded at local studios, finally re-settling there in 1998.

Kevin's daughter is currently enrolled at Onteora Middle School.  From 2012-2014, he served as Bennett Intermediate School’s PTA president. He has served on several District committees and is a fervent believer in public education, school sports as a community-building apparatus, and progressive political causes. Since 2009, he has also worked closely with Operation Respect in international anti-bullying and peace-building efforts, particularly in the Middle East and the Ukraine, touring schools and working with government agencies, the Department of State, and local recording artists to develop a music-based initiative to foster an atmosphere of openness and respect among youth living in areas of conflict.

Laurie Osmond - Vice President

Laurie has been on the Onteora School Board since 2008. During that time, she has served as President for two years, Vice-President for one year, and been an active member of the Green Committee, Policy Committee, Communications Committee and Facilities Committee.

Laurie was raised on eastern Long Island, and spent many years living in California before returning east and settling in Woodstock in
2004. She attended Brown University and San Francisco State University and holds a B.A. in Broadcast Communications Arts.

Her professional background includes many years of employment as a producer and executive with television networks and film and television production companies. She is a self-employed media producer, editor, writer and videographer and is the mother of a daughter attending Onteora schools.

Laurie serves on the Board of Education because she is passionate about the education and welfare of our young people. She hopes that her service contributes to the betterment of our district, wise fiscal management, a continuing implementation of leading-edge sustainability practices, and the enhancement of a curriculum that embraces the unique character of the region's history, arts and environment; yet will empower our students to succeed on a global level.

Valerie Storey - Trustee

Valerie and her husband Marshall are graduates of Onteora. They have two children who are currently enrolled at Woodstock Primary School and the Middle/High School. Valerie has lived in the area all of her life and has been on numerous committees concerning the future of our children. She enjoys reading, camping, and spending as much time as possible with her family.

Lindsay Shands - Trustee

Lindsay was born and raised in Shokan, NY. She and her husband attended OCS, however she moved to Portland, OR in her Junior year and graduated from Westview High School.  She received a bachelors in Anthropology from SUNY New Paltz and a Paralegal Certificate from Marist College.  Lindsay currently works for an attorney in Kingston. She has two children, an infant and an eighth grader. She has always been very involved in her children's education.  Lindsay served as the PTA president of Chamber's Elementary School in 2010-11 and was Vice President of the Bennett Intermediate School in 2013-2014. She also served as facilitator of the Shared Decision Making Committee.   She is a dedicated animal lover and volunteers for Curly Tail Pug Rescue. Lindsay loves to travel with her family and explore the outdoors.  

Bennett Ratcliff - Trustee

The son of a public school teacher, Bennet Ratcliff lives in Bearsville with his partner Jacqueline Kellachan, co-owner of The Golden Notebook bookstore. They share a home in Bearsville with six children, a dog and a cat.  

Professionally, Bennet has pursued diverse interests. In education, he created branding and positioning strategies for philanthropic initiatives supporting blended learning and closing the achievement gap.  He also advised public school officials in leadership searches and on policy issues. In politics, Bennet created TV and radio ads for President Bill Clinton's 1992 and 1996 Presidential campaigns.  He also advised the Presidents of Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet. Twice, he won the prestigious Pollie award from the American Association of Political Consultants for Internet advertising and radio campaigns.

In the private sector, Bennet created a methodology for identifying obstacles and opportunities during times of crisis. Collaborating with CEOs, community activists, and government leaders, he finds solutions that integrate public policy, communications, crisis management, legal actions, advertising, and social media.

Bennet graduated from Princeton University and did post-graduate studies at the Université de Grenoble in France as a Rotary Foundation Fellow. 

Robert Kurnit - Trustee

Robert was born and raised on Long Island. He has lived in several states in the northeast as well as in Canada, finally settling in Woodstock in 1991. He has worked as a builder, custom woodworker, and manager of a retail golf shop. His wife and many family members are teachers involved in public education. He started attending Onteora School Board meetings regularly in 2005, and was appointed to the school board in 2009, after a resignation. He was re-elected for three-year terms in 2010 and 2013, and was just elected back to the Board after a one-year absence. During his tenure, he has been an active participant in school board issues, including the Budget, Policy and Facilities. He has been involved in focusing on public education through the Ulster County School Board Association, and connecting with state lawmakers in Albany.

He is an advocate for the greater Onteora communities potential to focus on our children and our public schools.

Robert Burke Warren - Trustee

Robert has lived in Phoenicia, NY for fifteen years. He is a teacher, writer, musician, and the Director of Afterschool Enrichment and Communications at the Woodstock Day School. Many in the District know him as children's musician Uncle Rock. He has taught workshops for kids ranging from kindergarteners to seniors, and performed concerts in every Onteora auditorium.

Prior to putting down roots in Shandaken in 2002, Robert was a professional musician, actor, and occasional bartender in New York City. He spent most of his childhood in Atlanta, Georgia, and attended both parochial and public schools. (Mostly public.)  

Onteora’s excellent reputation drew Robert and his wife, teacher/writer Holly George-Warren, to the District in 2002. Their son attended K through 12, and graduated with honors in 2016. Robert’s debt of gratitude to Onteora and its stakeholders is one of many reasons he sought to be a Trustee. He is committed to helping keep Onteora’s standards high, to engaging the community in the process, and to ensuring every student graduates ready for the world.

TBD - Student Representative


Public Be Heard

Rules for Public Be Heard at Board of Education Meetings.
  • Speakers must use the microphone so that comments may be picked up on the official recording of the meeting.
  • Each speaker will be requested to identify his/herself for the official record and so that a response can be forwarded after the meeting, if desired.
  • Speakers are free to provide the District Clerk with a written summary of comments.
  • Please do not mention any employee by name. Specific personnel issues cannot be discussed in public.
  • Speakers may be given a time limit of 3 minutes.
  • The Board may respond to comments in the subsequent meeting if able, and may also direct the Superintendent to gather information for a future response, when appropriate.
It is helpful for individuals to sign up to speak at Public Be Heard prior to the meeting by calling the District Clerk at (845) 657- 6383 x.1010 or by emailing

How Can I Be Heard if I Do Not Like Speaking in Public?
If you have a comment or question for the Board, but don’t feel comfortable speaking in public, please feel free to email the Board at
Written communication directed to the Board may also be mailed to the District Clerk at:
Attn: District Clerk
Onteora Central School District
Board of Education
PO Box 300
Boiceville, NY 12412

Policy 1512 - Public Be Heard: Regular Board Meetings/Workshop Sessions
     All meetings of the Board of Education where members meet to conduct public business are meetings which are subject to the Open Meetings Law. The public will be given an opportunity to address the Board at the beginning of the regular business meeting.
     Any individual addressing the Board of Education will be asked to give his/her name at the outset of their comments. Time limits may be set by the Board, if necessary.
     The following statement of rules will be read by the President of the Board prior to the opening of a public session: "The Board of Education cannot discuss individual student or personnel matters in open session. People wishing to express individual concerns can bring them to the President's attention, or to the Superintendent's during the break."
     No action will be taken by the Board of Education at the same meeting on requests from the public which may necessitate either a new policy or a change in existing policy. It is requested that such requests be submitted in writing and preferably at least one (1) week prior to Regular Board Meetings.
     The purpose of a Board Workshop Session is to discuss some aspect of the governance of the school program.
Education Law Section 1708


Educational Vision, Values and Ethics Leadership

Promote and maintain, through policy and Board action, a stimulating, healthy and safe environment conducive to learning that improves the educational experience for all students.

Budget and Finance

Maintain short and long term fiscal plans that protect and maximize the district assets through continuous review of programs and practices in a cost effective manner, and provide the funding to support the aforementioned.

Community & Culture

Foster an open, collaborative and responsive relationship with the students, staff and community and offer additional means to achieve that. Improve the district-wide school culture through interaction, clear communication of Board priorities, appreciation for staff initiatives and student achievement.