Top vote-getter quits Stonington school board

Stonington - Former Board of Education Chairwoman Gail MacDonald has resigned from the board just three weeks after becoming the highest vote-getter in the school board election and a week after being replaced as chairman by by fellow Democrat Frank Todisco.

MacDonald, who submitted her resignation letter on Thursday, has served eight years on the board, four as chairwoman.

She said Sunday that she ran for re-election intending to serve out the four-year term but then realized she may not be able to meet the time commitments because of increasing job responsibilities and caring for her ailing parents, which necessitated her decision.

She acknowledged that her replacement as chairwoman also entered into her decision to step down.

But MacDonald stressed it was not that she lost the post, but what she called the lack of communication that led to it. She said she has learned other board members had been discussing a need to replace her as chairman before the election but she was never consulted.

When she said she realized she had been ''cut out of the conversation'' she said she did not think anything positive would come from trying to stay on the board as communication is essential to being an effective team.

MacDonald also served on the K-12 School Building Committee, the school board's policy committee, the Stonington Education Fund, various PTOs and school based improvement teams and the boards of both LEARN and the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education.

She said that during her tenure, the board worked as a team and went from reacting to crises to putting goals and procedures in place and making decisions based on that planning.

Todisco said Sunday that MacDonald's resignation came as a surprise to him when he heard of it on Thursday.

He said the change in chairmanship was not ''in the works'' in the months and weeks before the election as MacDonald alleged.

He said he supported MacDonald in the election and had her campaign sign in his yard.

He said MacDonald had been wonderful to work with and had answered all his questions when he came on the board.

''She was my go-to person,'' he said. ''There's no question we will miss Gail. Her loss will be felt. She was a great contributer to the board and she had a lot of institutional knowledge.''

The remaining Democratic members of the board, Todisco and Graig Esposito, along with former Democrat Alisa Morrison will now choose a successor to MacDonald.

If that is not done within 90 days, the Board of Selectmen would choose a replacement.

Todisco said that if the if the vote is held within 90 days of Nov. 6, the Secretary of the State's office has said Morrison would be able to participate even though she renounced her affiliation with the Democratic Party after the election because she said she was embarrassed that the town had re-elected Democratic First Selectman Ed Haberek who she referred to as "a bozo" on her Facebook page.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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