When the Board of Education met less that 2 weeks ago for their November business meeting at North Street School, they failed to elect its slate of officers for the next year, an outcome reminiscent of last year when the first attempt at a vote met the same fate. So instead, they agreed to defer the election to its Nov. 27 budget meeting at Cos Cob School.
Kids Come First
While there has been much speculation over who will be nominated for chairman and what the outcome will be, Republican Barbara O'Neill who currently serves as vice chairman, said, "In the end, the outcome will result in what is best for the students." This past year, the board has been "functioning smoothly" said O'Neill.
Per Board of Education Policy G-002, the "Board shall elect officers within 30 days of an election or at its regular meeting in November, whichever is later." According to the policy, the election of officers "shall require a written record vote by a majority of the Board."
In accordance with state statutes, if the Board has not elected a chairperson and secretary within one (1) month following Board member elections because of a tie (4-4) vote, the Greenwich Board of Selectmen shall appoint a chairperson and secretary. However, First Selectman Peter Tesei says that ideally the Board of Education should determine their own leadership, however "if they cannot we will abide by that statutory process."
The board is split equally—four Republicans and four Democrats.
Last year on Dec. 1, Leslie Moriarty became the first Democrat in 30 years to be elected chair winning with a 5-3 vote over sitting Chairman Steve Anderson, a Republican who held the position for the prior two years.
Fellow Democrat Nancy Kail nominated Moriarty as chairman citing her "experience", "institutional knowledge" and "productivity" as some of Moriarity's qualities in support of her nomination and eventual election.
Moriarty won the majority vote when Republican board member Peter Sherr crossed party lines and supported her. Prior to Anderson, the board chair was occupied by Republicans Nancy Weissler, Colleen Giambo, Sandy Waters and Genny Krob.
The Past Year
During Moriarty's chairmanship, there has been considerable change in the membership on the Board of Education with half of the board turning over, as well as an extensive superintendent search process and the subsequent hiring of Dr. William McKersie.
At the same time, the board attempted to address the issues of the district's performance on standardized testing versus comparable districts. In addition, it continues to grapple with the perennial challenge of the "achievement gap" in terms of performance by minority and free/reduced lunch students on standardized tests versus their counterparts.
Work To Do
Regardless of the outcome of the officer election Tuesday evening, the 8 member board has a full agenda ahead: crafting a budget under newly issued austere guidelines, developing a response to State Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor on racial balance and focusing on student achievement for the nearly 9,000 Greenwich Public School students.