Curtin re-elected as New London school board president

New London — In a process that was at times mired in confusion, the Board of Education on Monday night elected its officers for the next year, including the unanimous re-election of Margaret Mary Curtin as board president.

When the elections began, board member Scott Garbini was chosen to conduct the elections as temporary chairman, though Curtin appeared to be coaching him through the parliamentary process and telling him what to say.

At one point, a citizen in the audience stood up and voiced his objection to Curtin continuing to control the meeting despite ceding the gavel to Garbini.

Curtin was the only board member to be nominated for president, and her re-election was approved by a vote of 6-0. The seventh board member, Elizabeth Garcia-Gonzalez, was absent from the meeting.

"Thank you for electing me once again," said Curtin, who now begins her fourth year as board president. "We are now in the second year of going into pioneer steps as an all-magnet schools city and I want to thank everybody who is working so hard to get this rolling."

Board member Rob Funk was unanimously chosen as the board's vice president, replacing Garcia-Gonzalez.

When Garbini called for nominations for board secretary, Aracelis Vazquez Haye nominated Sylvia Potter, and the only non-Democrat on the board, Mirna Martinez, nominated herself for the position.

"I continue to make relationships with our young people and all community members, and I have real faces and real stories to the issues that we work on," Martinez, a Green Party member, said. "I am asking you to please consider bipartisan leadership for our board. I represent some diversity of party as well."

No board member seconded Martinez's nomination and Potter was re-elected as the board secretary 5-1, with Martinez dissenting, to round out the board's leadership council.

"It is a shame to see our election of board officers again be scripted to where it is already figured out and to have no bipartisan support," said Jason Morris, a city resident who ran for a seat on the Board of Education in 2013, during public comment.

Also Monday night, the Board voted unanimously to request that the district administration prepare for the next fiscal year a budget with an increase of $2,650,731 - or 6.44 percent more than the current budget.

"We are asking the administration to prepare a budget that we will then go through, ask questions on, evaluate and it is still subject to change based on what we determine as a board as we review that budget," said Funk, who also chairs the board's Finance and Audit Committee.

Contractual obligations, inflation and the possibility that the city does not receive the same level of funding from the state Alliance Grant are all expected to necessitate the budget increase, Funk said.

Twitter: @ColinAYoung


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