The Byram Hills School District last week honored Ira Schulman, its longest-serving Board of Education member, during his final board meeting after 23 years of service.
Schulman is resigning from his seat effective Dec. 31 to start his new role as North Castle town justice, a race he won by 19 votes after the Westchester County Board of Elections certified the results on Dec. 3.
Board of Education President Scott Levy and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jen Lamia praised Schulman at last week’s meeting for his dedication to the district and community and for his expertise in not only helping the district through an array of challenges but assisting and mentoring new board members.
He has also been its biggest cheerleader, a regular at many of the district’s sporting events and other functions over the years.
“I think your board service ends with a tremendous amount of hope and positivity because you have left Byram Hills stronger than when you’ve come,” Levy said, “which is really the mark that anybody can ask of a great leader and a public servant, and I hope that you’re an inspiration for all of the kids that are here, all of our students, because it’s an example of how an individual through many years of distinguished service can add so much value to an institution they love.”
Schulman, an attorney, was presented with a plaque by Lamia that fittingly included a small gavel. He was emotional when thanking the community and his family for allowing him to serve as long as he has.
Schulman said it would be impossible to sum up more than two decades of service and put it in proper perspective.
“The past 23 years have just meant the world to me, to serve this Board of Education and school district as a board member, eight terms as board president, (it) has been one of the true joys of my life,” Schulman said.
He has served so long that most of this year’s graduating seniors wouldn’t be born for another six years when he first landed on the board, Levy noted. In that time, he has helped Byram Hills navigate crises from the aftermath of 9/11 to the ongoing pandemic.
“I do love this district, the education, the athletics, the fine arts, the music, the drama, the science research,” Schulman said. “Everything about it, to me, is what makes not only this school district but this community great because it’s public education. That is the backbone of this country, and it’s your support as parents of public education that makes this happen.”
Lamia, who early in her career was a teacher in the district before moving to South America for two years, said she returned because Schulman personally reached out to her.
Schulman’s support of rigorous academic standards and hiring the best teachers while maintaining fiscal responsibility was the hallmark of his career, Lamia said. He never let his level of enthusiasm for Byram Hills dip, helping to shape the district’s history, she said.
“Your level of passion 20 years ago as a board member is exactly the same as it is today,” Lamia said. “You care about supporting public schools for the benefit of all children. Your passion has resulted in unparalleled stewardship of our school community.”
“We were really blessed to have someone like Ira, with so much experience and insight to guide us along the way,” Levy added.
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