New member appointed to East Lyme Board of Education

East Lyme — Town resident Ryan Shrader was appointed by the Board of Education on Monday to fill the seat vacated last month when longtime board member Albert Littlefield resigned. Shrader will serve in the term until the Nov. 2019 election.

Shrader, a member of the Republican Town Committee who works as an engineering supervisor at General Dynamics Electric Boat, said he and his wife, Emily, who is a former fifth-grade teacher and is involved in the East Lyme MOMS Club, have three young children and moved to East Lyme for the school system. He said education is so important and critical to the town. 

"I look forward to collaborating with the entire board without regard to partisanship — that’s not my thing — and I'm committed to the long-term success of East Lyme," he told the board on Monday. "I feel that is directly tied to a strong school district, and while I think there are some challenges facing the district, I think we’re well equipped to handle them going forward, and I believe that I can help."

In a phone interview on Tuesday, Shrader said he's interested in collaborating with the board and Superintendent Jeffrey Newton on finding ways to continue to achieve good student outcomes and maintain the school district's high performance in the face of Connecticut's fiscal challenges. He also said he wants to collaborate on solutions on how to adapt and modify programs and curriculum to better prepare students — ensuring they are well-rounded and have a strong liberal arts foundation — for the coming changes nationally in technology and the job market. Another priority is finding creative ways to keep offering all the extracurricular opportunities amid state budget woes.

The vacancy on the board follows the resignation of Littlefield, a Republican and the Board of Education's former secretary. His resignation was effective July 16.

"I want to thank the voters of the Town of East Lyme and the East Lyme Board of Education for placing their trust in me by electing me to fill the position on the Board of Education," Littlefield wrote in his resignation letter. "With my start in February of 2004, it has been a great 14-year opportunity to work as a member of this Board being side-by-side with other dedicated Board members, the Administrative Team, and the teaching staff; all working with the single goal of bettering the educational processes and opportunities for our children."

The Board of Education's bylaws state that: "A vacancy occurring in the Board of Education will be filled by the remaining members of the Board, who will appoint an individual to the position."

At Monday's board meeting, Ann Cicchiello, who ran as a Democratic candidate for the Board of Education in the November 2017 election and serves as a member of the Inland Wetlands Agency, also was nominated but the motion to appoint her failed. William Derry, Jill Carini, Barbara Senges and Candice Carlson voted in favor of appointing Cicchiello, while Leigh McNamara Gianakos, John Kleinhans, Timothy Hagen, Eric Bauman and Jaime Barr Shelburn opposed.  

The board voted 5-3, with one abstention, to appoint Shrader. McNamara Gianakos, Kleinhans, Hagen, Bauman and Barr Shelburn voted in favor; Carini, Carlson and Senges opposed; and Derry abstained.

k.drelich@theday.com

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