Kowalski, Rabin, Von Braun: The Peter Sherr We Know

Submitted Karen Kowalski, Lauren Rabin and Peter Von Braun – Current and Former Members of the Greenwich Board of Education

When you first meet Peter Sherr, you’re struck by his warm nature and confident handshake. Like many other Greenwich parents, Sherr is a busy person – Dad of 3 kids, leader of a software company, community volunteer, and until last year longtime BoE member. But he’s always pausing to listen to what a parent or neighbor has to say.

We were surprised when Peter decided to run for an office in Hartford because he had worked so hard for Greenwich families – parents, kids and taxpayers – for more than a decade and he deserved a break. We’re glad he isn’t stepping back but stepping forward.

Peter served 12 years on the Board of Education having been elected 3 times. He was Chairman of Labor Contracts Negotiation, Chair of the Strategic Plan Committee, and Member of various other committees including Policy, Finance, and Long-Term Capital Plan Committees.

He also served as Chairman of the Board of Education. Although he’ll tell you he preferred just being a regular member so that he could most openly and freely advocate for parents, kids and taxpayers and he did that is spades.

We could always rely on Peter to dig into any subject before the Board and ask the deeper harder question. BoE members are generally busy people with extensive work and family commitments. Peter always showed up having read the hundreds of report pages and ready to engage with his peers and school administrators. Superintendents could always expect, sometimes to their chagrin, Sherr to ask about outcomes, results and performance of any program or initiative especially those directly affecting the classroom and kids.

He also seemed to have this odd habit of remembering nearly everything we had been told by an administrator, principal, teacher, or other staff. If someone tried to misdirect or evade, he always pressed and questioned. His drive for consistency and clarity was not always appreciated by staff but loved by parents.

Working with others, Peter achieved much on the BoE. During his tenure, he led negotiations with all three BoE employee unions. His approach was different. He brought into the process other parts of Town Government including the Finance Board and Representative Town Meeting. Some Board members didn’t like his new collaborative approach. They viewed the BET and RTM as foes on school budgets best kept at arm’s length. However, the results spoke for themselves. He delivered 5 labor contracts without confrontational arbitration. These contracts had some of the lowest cost of contracts and achieved some of the highest RTM ratification votes.

Leveraging his corporate strategy experience in the IT industry, he was also a leader in developing and adopting the BoE’s first ever strategic plan. Working with other Board members, he was a tireless advocate for student achievement performance metrics. Almost like a broken record, he always asked “how can we do better for kids?” Sherr was also a helpful voice as Greenwich Schools transformed learning through a nearly $20Mil investment in classroom and student technology.

If you ask Peter his biggest GPS accomplishment, he’ll tell you being the voice of parents and kids. When a Superintendent and other Board members suggested busing more than 1,000 students as part of a racial balance plan, Peter said “wait a minute!”. Instead, Peter and Peter von Braun asked, “what do minority parents want?”. When Special Education students weren’t getting the services they needed and deserved, Sherr stood up. When Superintendents tried to change the character of Greenwich neighborhood schools, he asked direct questions. Most recently when Superintendent Jones shut down schools for 4 months without any remote instruction, Sherr was a relentless voice pressing for schooling for kids.

Peter has been roundly and regularly criticized by his political opponents. As Board members, we can attest, this just comes with the territory. He was sharply criticized by his own Republican Party when he supported a Democratic Chairwoman because he thought she was the best choice. He’s endured a frivolous and expensive lawsuit launched by Peter Bernstein after Mr. Bernstein was rejected for the Republican nomination. Bernstein lost that suit.

Last year, he had to again go through another trumped-up censure from Peter Bernstein and Board Democrats after he uttered an expletive in a Zoom call “hot-mike” moment. Ironically, the expletive is taught in Greenwich High School classrooms. Regardless, Sherr apologized in a public letter published in the newspaper. These opponents proceeded anyway and against the advice of the Town Attorney, but Sherr just let it go getting back to the business of parents and kids.

Peter is like so many other Greenwich parents; committed, involved, engaged, busy and ambitious for his kids and family. He brought energy and commitment to his time on the BoE. We’re certain he’ll do the same if he becomes our representative in Hartford. We encourage you to vote Peter Sherr for State Rep on November 8.

Karen Kowalski
Lauren Rabin
Peter Von Braun
Current and Former Members of the Greenwich Board of Education