Holden, re-elected as school board chairman, says full-day K is priority

Board of Education Chairman Mark Holden
Board of Education Chairman Mark Holden

Mark Holden was re-elected as chairman of the Shelton Board of Education (BOE) on Wednesday night.

Holden said he was honored to lead the nine-member school board. “Preparing the next generation for success is one of the most important responsibilities of city government,” he said.

Holden said the board consists of “nine individuals with talents and skills to contribute.”

The elected BOE oversees the school system, which has eight schools, 650 employees and a $65.6 million annual budget.

When nominating Holden to continue as chairman, BOE member Tom Minotti called him “trustworthy, conscientious and dedicated.”

Been chairman for the past year

Holden was first elected to the BOE in 2011 and served the past year as chairman. Terms for BOE leadership positions are for one year. School board members are elected to two-year terms.

Holden works in the insurance business and is active as an amateur astronomer. He previously was on the city Board of Apportionment and Taxation.

Full-day kindergarten issue

In brief comments after the vote, Holden said one priority issue is full-day kindergarten. Shelton now offers half-day kindergarten.

The BOE has formed an ad hoc committee to look into establishing a full-day K program, and most — if not all — school board members appear to be in favor of the idea.

“I feel real good about that,” Holden said in a reference to convincing other city officials — such as Mayor Mark Lauretti and the aldermen — that having a full-day K program would be beneficial.

During the recent campaign, Holden strongly supported moving to a full-day program, which would bring the Shelton school district in line with its Fairfield County counterparts.

“When full-day kindergarten is implemented with a rigorous curriculum, most kids end the year reading a full year above grade level and need less remedial help in later grades,” Holden had said during the campaign.

Vice chairman and secretary re-elected

In other BOE leadership elections, Minotti was re-elected as vice chairman and Arlene Liscinsky as secretary. Holden and Minotti are Republicans and Liscinsky is a Democrat, Republicans control the BOE by a 5-4 margin.

The voice votes for the three leadership posts were recorded by BOE officials as being unanimous, although it appeared Republican John Francino-Quinn attempted to vote in opposition to at least the Holden nomination by raising his hand to indicate a negative vote.

The Board of Education has two new members following the Nov. 5 election. They are Democrats Faith B. Hack and Kate Kutash.

Returning members are Republicans Francino-Quinn, Holden, Minotti, Win Oppel and Kathy Yolish; and Democrats Liscinsky and Timothy J. Walsh III.