New London school board appoints eight-member advisory committee

New London - On Thursday, Board of Education Chairwoman Margaret Curtin appointed eight community members, including three Connecticut College professors, to a new ad hoc committee that will advise the board.

The advisory committee will not have any voting power, she said.

"The committee will be charged with obtaining objective data, research and other factual information as requested in order to assist the board in performing its responsibilities more effectively and in making informed education policy and operation decisions," Curtin said.

Members' appointments will be effective until December, when the new Board of Education is sworn in.

Curtin said the committee was formed under one of the board's bylaws that allow its chairperson or the entire board to appoint ad hoc committees.

"We get things at the last minute," Curtin said, "and we really can't make an informed decision, but we're going to try to get them the information before our meeting."

The board has frequently complained that it receives information pertinent to meeting discussions with too little time to digest it. A growing rift between the school board and Superintendent Nicholas A. Fischer led to a board vote last month not to renew Fischer's contract.

Board members at the time cited a lack of communication as the main driver behind their decision.

Curtin said Thursday that the idea of the committee is to also "alleviate the load of the administration," which she said is too "bogged-down."

"I think this will help the board a lot in what they're voting on," she said.

Fischer said Thursday night that he had no knowledge of the formation of the committee until the school board meeting.

"I'm not clear as to its purpose, what its role is and how it's different from what the administration does," Fischer said.

Committee members are: Connecticut College Education Department Chairman Sandy Grande; Connecticut College Education Department professor Lauren Anderson; Connecticut College Economics Department professor Monika Lopez-Anuarbe; U.S. Coast Guard Academy professor Elizabeth Rivero; retired attorney Helen Sandalls; Jose Ulloa, co-founder of Expressiones Cultural Center; and Mongi Dhaoudi, a member of the New London Parents Advocacy Group.

Mike James, co-founder of the ISAAC charter school, has been named as an alternate.

j.hanckel@theday.com

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