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Stonington school board backs Downie for school building panel

By Joe Wojtas

Publication: theday.com

Published June 19. 2014 5:31PM   Updated June 19. 2014 11:51PM

Stonington — Board of Education Chairman Frank Todisco said Thursday that he has submitted an alternative choice to Alisa Morrison to be the board’s representative on the K-12 School Building Committee. 

Todisco said he submitted Deborah Downie’s name to the Board of Selectmen Thursday morning and hopes she will be appointed at the selectmen’s meeting on Wednesday. 

The school board’s recommendation of Downie comes after First Selectman Ed Haberek and Selectman George Crouse refused to appoint Morrison to the committee last week, even though the school board wanted her as its representative because of her “professional qualifications and expertise.” 

Todisco said it is critically important that the school board get a representative on the committee, which is working on a plan to renovate and expand the elementary schools. The board has been without a representative since November. 

“We need to get someone on there,” Todisco said, adding there was no opportunity for the school board to discuss the issue with Haberek and Crouse and convince them to overturn it. The two men had refused to second Selectwoman Glee McAnanly’s motion to appoint Morrison. 

Todisco said that after last week’s rejection of Morrison, he emailed Haberek asking for the criteria he and Crouse were using to select the representative, but that Haberek never responded. 

Haberek, Crouse, and Todisco are all on the Democratic Town Committee.

Morrison is also a Democrat. 

Haberek and Crouse, who refused to say why they would not appoint Morrison last week, issued a statement this week saying they “do not believe Mrs. Morrison is the right person for this job.” But the two men did not explain their reasoning. 

Morrison, who has been a civil engineer for 15 years, has worked on municipal and school projects and also served on the Planning and Zoning Commission, Inland Wetlands Commission, and Athletic Fields Task Force. She has been critical of Haberek in the past, including last winter when she criticized his Facebook page, which he had used for several years as both his personal page and to post official town information. Morrison and others said his page often includes inappropriate material, including images of scantily clad women. 

Morrison has challenged the two men to explain why they do not want her on the committee, saying residents deserve an explanation. 

j.wojtas@theday.com

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