Education board pays respect to its departing members

Two of the city’s nine Board of Education members announced they will not run for reelection for the 2017-18 school year.

Both Faith Hack, who has served four terms on the board, and Arlene Liscinsky, who has served eight terms on the board, announced that they will not run in the 2017-18 Board of Education election.

Superintendent of Shelton Schools Dr. Chris Clouet said the board will miss both members dearly and their contributions to the school district have helped to set the standard for education in the city.

“It’s going to be a time of change and a growing process for members, depending on who they are of course, but it’s something we will work toward together,” said Clouet. “I certainly make myself available to candidates of any party that are interested in meeting with me just to hear about some of the challenges the school district has or is facing and the technical details about what it’s like to run the school district.”

Once the new board members are announced, Clouet said it will participate in some form of retreat where it can bond while also going over plans for the next year.

The superintendent said all elected board members should be people who really care about kids and whose focus is making sure that all Shelton students receive an education that helps them to prosper in the 21st Century.

With two members leaving a board that has been working on its ability to work with other boards and members of the community, Clouet said he’s hoping that there’s no disruption in the community it’s built thus far when new members are announced.

Leaving for positive reasons

After serving on boards that played vital roles in getting full-day kindergarten approved in 2014 and modifying the city’s posthumous diploma policy in 2016, both Hack and Liscinsky have made the tough decision to not run for reelection.

Hack said although it was a difficult decision to make, she’s chosen not to run again for several positive reasons.

“My Board of Education experience has been inspiring and uplifting. I will miss working with my esteemed colleagues and for Shelton's citizens and the school system's exceptional staff and amazing students,” said Hack. “However, as I am so fortunate to have a wonderful family which includes an incredibly awesome grandson, I've decided to devote more of my time to them.”

The superintendent said Hack’s experience and background in science has brought a lot to the table.

‘It is with huge regret that I will not run again for a 9th term’

Liscinsky announced her decision to not run for reelection in a Letter to the Editor addressed to the Shelton Herald on June 15.

Her letter reads as follows:

"It is with huge regret that I will not run again for a 9th term for office on the Shelton Board of Education.  My reason for this decision is to deal with a pressing family health issue that is now requiring all of my time (24/7).

I would like to not only reflect upon my time on the Board of Education but also thank all who have supported not only myself but also the entire school system over the last 16 years to help move it forward.  I also want to thank those who supported me during my two runs for state representative over the years. I have worked with some incredible people in my sixteen years on this Board of Education and on all of the committees and boards I have served. Regardless of political affiliation or philosophy I have always worked with my colleagues and other stakeholders for the betterment for our Shelton kids.

I am proud of all the accomplishments that have happened while I have served on the Shelton Board of Education, starting with the strategic plan, building of SIS, renovations of SHS, BHS, and Perry Hill, and Capital improvements. I was a part of the $2.5 million technology committee along with the FDK committee. I have served with five BOE Chairs along with four  Superintendents, and have personally served in all leadership positions.

I will also truly miss representing Shelton on the Cooperative Educational Services (C.E.S.) board where I also served as President of their governing board for the last nine years. My colleagues on that board have been incredible.

My commitment and passion for public education has never wavered nor has my commitment to children. I will always be very supportive of not only the Shelton school district but also public education in general.

I am grateful for having had this extraordinary opportunity to serve the community."

Liscinsky’s two daughters said they’re thankful for their mother’s contribution to the community and the legacy she’s leaving behind.

Erin Rasmussen, one of Liscinsky’s daughters, said she is also involved in education and recalls numerous occasions of calling her mother to discuss the differences between the Shelton school district and where she teaches in Massachusetts.

“Overall I am just extremely proud to be her daughter,” said Rasmussen.

Liscinsky’s other daughter, Kate Chase, said she too is proud of the work her mother has done for education in Shelton.

I think what’s so impressive is that her passion for education and commitment is genuine. She hasn’t had a child in the school system since 2005, when Erin graduated from Shelton High School, yet she understands the importance of providing children with an opportunity not only in school, but also in life,” said Chase. “Despite losing an advocate, the city is lucky to have had someone like my mom to serve the community.”

Board of Ed Chair Mark Holden said Lisckinsky’s track record of “making things happen” will be missed.

“I'm sorry circumstances necessitate Arlene's retirement from our Board of Education,” said Holden. “She has been a strong and vocal supporter of public education for as long as I've known her.  She's open and honest about her feelings, and when she accepts a responsibility there is never any question she will make things happen.”

Board members Kathy Yolish, Dr. Darlisa Ritter, Gioiello, and Hack all shared a similar sentiment toward Liscinsky leaving.

“Upon joining the Board eight years ago, Arlene took me under her wing and helped me navigate the ins and outs at my first National School Board Convention in Chicago,” said Yolish. “One of Arlene's most notable traits is that she tells it like it is. Although there have been some heavy discussions Arlene never carried a grudge and continued to work together for the common good and always for the children first. She will surely be missed but her contributions will be remembered and valued.”

In the short time that I have been on the BOE, I have found Arlene to be helpful and honest about Board procedures and processes. I appreciated her knowledge of past experiences and the history behind events and decisions that dealt with Board issues,” said Ritter.

Arlene has always been a strong proponent of public education. Shelton's students and families have been very fortunate to have someone with her dedication representing them on the Board of Education,” said Hack.

“She always put the needs of Shelton students first,” said Gioiello.

The superintendent said he understands that Liscinsky is merely making a decision based off of her family’s needs.

“That wealth of knowledge that she brings is so important when running a school district,” said Clouet. “With that said, we all understand, that in life this is her time to take care of some family things that preclude her from being able to serve as active as she would want to be.”

The Shelton democratic and republican party have yet to announce who they have decided to nominate to run for the Board of Ed in November’s election.