One-third of city’s school board not running for reelection

The Shelton Board of Education will have a new look in the upcoming school year as three of its nine members will not be running for reelection.

In the past few weeks, veteran board members Arlene Liscinsky and Faith Hack announced that this year will be their final serving on the board.

Most recently, 12-year veteran Win Oppel announced that he will not seek reelection.

“It’s an unfortunate thing for the board that our most senior members in Arlene and Win have decided they need to not continue at the same time, but on the other hand, the other people on the board have several years of experience now,” said Current Board Chair Mark Holden. ”Frankly, in our district, it’s all about delivering as much as we can for as little as we can.”

In a letter to the editor, Oppel thanked the community for supporting him over the course of his time on the board and said it has been an “honor to serve.” Oppel’s full letter to the editor can be found on page 4A.

“While I believe that I helped make our education program better for all our students, there is still much to do,” Oppel wrote.

He went on to list some of the impactful moves that he was thankful to be a part of, such as starting all-day kindergarten and working to have Perry Hill School opened.

Oppel was twice elected chairman and worked with superintendents Robin Willink, Freeman Burr and Dr. Chris Clouet.

“After almost 40 years of public service, I started serving in the administration of Mayor Eugene Hope in 1977 and became Shelton’s youngest administrative assistant in 1980; served seven years as a trustee of the Connecticut Colleges; 10 years as a governor’s appointee to the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission and have been a board chairman and member of the Executive Committee of The WorkPlace (Southwestern Connecticut’s nationally recognized Workforce Development Board) for over 25 years, it is best for Patty and I that I take some time off,” Oppel wrote in his letter to the editor.

Although Oppel announced he will be leaving the education board, he said his heart will “always be closest to the Shelton Public Schools.

“Five of our soon-to-be 15 grandchildren will be enrolled in classes here this fall. I know that those who will lead the district will work diligently to insure that our students leave with the best possible education that can be provided for the funds allocated.”

Holden called Oppel a “strong fiscal conservative” that will not be easily replaced.

Holden said both the city’s Democratic and Republican parties will meet on Monday, July 24, to discuss their nominees for candidates.

“It’s up to each party to use the criteria they feel is important to nominate candidates,” said Holden. “I know one of the people looking to get on the board in Anne Gaydos. She’s been very involved for a number of years and I think she would be a terrific person to add on to the board but it’s still very early on.”

New members not the only concern for Board of Ed

Holden said along with a board that will at least consist of three new members, he’s concerned with additional expenses in the education budget.

“One of the big concerns for me is last year in September we had found out that several new students with special needs had come into the district and they had IEP’s that called for out-of-district placements, which can be ferocious,” said Holden. “It ended up being an additional million dollars on our budget and that was in the first month of the school year. Frankly, we spent the whole year looking for ways to terminate expenses in other parts of the budget in order to cover that.”

Holden said additional expenses could potentially mean going over their budget.

“Under the state autonomy law, if we go over budget, while we can ask the city for more money, they’re not obligated to give it to us and we could be personally held responsible for the financial shortfall. Nobody on the Board of Ed wants to refinance their house,” said Holden.

In spite of working with a tight budget for next year, Holden said the board is very excited about  rolling out the school of innovation at the Shelton Intermediate School. He said the district is currently developing similar programs for Shelton High School.