Board of Ed will feature 'a blend of old and new'
Updated 2:07 pm, Monday, August 19, 2013
Election year 2013 could bring a significant change of faces for New Milford's Board of Education.
Six of the nine seats on the board are up for grabs. Five Republican and one Democratic members' seats are open.
The sole Republican board member seeking reelection, whose term ends in December, is chairwoman Wendy Faulenbach.
Democratic board member Tom McSherry is not seeking re-election.
It remains to be seen what this could mean as the board grapples with the proposal to close John Pettibone School, reconfigure grades and redistrict the town.
Shaffer, Lawson and Shook all served on the schools' Facilities Study Committee.
None of the eight candidates for this November -- four Democratic and four Republican -- except Faulenbach, were aboard that committee.
It was the Facilities Study Committee that reached the recommendation for school changes, including closing Pettibone.
Coppola, Finney and Stillman have served on the education board in the past. Coppola believes all three would come to the table with an awareness of the issues and potential ramifications of the board's decision.
"Everyone's quick to say that Pettibone will be the school to close," Coppola said. "I'm not ready to say that until I hear more. I'm concerned about length of bus travel for primary students having to travel from Gaylordsville to a different school."
Faulenbach noted, "There's nothing new under the sun about this."
"When elections are over, you have changes, new faces on the board -- a blend of old and new," she commented. "We have put forward a timetable on how we want this (decision) to move forward."
"The issue is complex," Faulenbach said, "but I'm confident that everyone on the board now and candidates coming forward are focused and know the commitment coming into this."
Two education board members have resigned since the first of the year. Each would have had two years remaining on his term.
Dan Nichols, a Republican, resigned from the board on Aug. 6, citing other time-consuming commitments.
Similarly, Republican Tom Brant resigned in February, citing work conflict.
Shen did not, however, receive the requisite votes to garner the party endorsement, Bass said.
Rigdon is, instead, running as a petitioning, unaffiliated candidate for a seat on the town council. Her name would appear on the November ballot on a separate line.
"I love my town and have been asked by many to remain an advocate for its residents," Rigdon said Thursday. "I am absolutely still committed to the schools and would enjoy the opportunity to learn another side of town government."
Rigdon said she has stepped down as vice chairwoman of the Board of Education and as chairwoman of the Education Connection.