The Valley Stream Teacher’s Association voted 614-25 in favor of passing an amendment that will allow the current president, Richard Herrmann, to complete his current term through June 30, 2013, even though he will be retiring in June.
“I guess some of the executive council delegates felt this would be easier for everybody if we just change the constitution so I could finish out next year,” Herrmann said. “Next year anybody interested in running for my position would announce their candidacy and we’d be able to spend some time showing them what to do.”
Herrmann has been president of VSTA for 38 years and an English teacher at Central High School for 52 years. He said that he made his decision to retire this year when a one-time retirement incentive came into play.
“There’s a certain excitement to it,” Herr-mann said of his time as president, “a sense that you’re doing something significant. We advocate for teachers, students and the community.”
The amendment to the constitution will be a single exception to the provision that states that retirees are ineligible to hold elected office. The process of amending the constitution began at the Jan. 12 meeting of the union’s executive council, when it was introduced in writing. From there it was put to a vote to VSTA Executive Council delegates on Feb. 9 — the vote was unanimous, 48-0 — and a date was set for a general membership vote in March.
On Feb. 13, the monthly President’s Report was distributed to all members with the wording of the amendment for their consideration. In order for a constitutional amendment to pass, it needed to receive support from two-thirds of voters. It passed with 96 percent.
“It was a nice vote of confidence,” Herr-mann said. “I think it will make it easier for my successor to come into office with a little more than a year to prepare.”
Teacher representatives around Valley Stream cite Herrmann’s years of service to the VSTA as a major reason why the amendment was put into place.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for our association to continue the experienced leadership of Mr. Herrmann during this transitional time,” said Neil MacDermott, teacher representative for District 24, “and give the association an opportunity to groom new leadership to take us into the future.”
Richard Adams has been the building representative at Central High School for 17 years and a teacher in Valley Stream for 25 years. “It’s definitely in the best interest of the VSTA to have him stay on and finish out his term because of the experience he has with the VSTA,” Adams said. “It’s designed to help us out for the next year.”
The next general elections will now take place in May 2013, which by then a leading candidate to replace Herrmann would likely be known. That is expected to provide sufficient time for a smoother transition to new leadership when Herrmann is relieved of his presidential duties. Until then, he will continue to enjoy his job as president.
“I like dealing with the administration, dealing with members,” he said. “I like solving problems, dealing with concerns and issues. It was a great experience in addition to teaching because I taught half the day. I’d always say to my students, ‘I deal with you in the first half of the day and I deal with big people in the second half of the day.’”