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School Board Appoints First Ever Vice Chairperson

Democrats wanting minority representation put up a candidate, but the majority chose Republican, Donna Lane.

The Monroe Board of Education chose Republican, Donna Lane as its first-ever vice chairperson after creating the new position Monday night. But the vote was along party lines after Democrats, wanting minority representation among officers on the board, nominated their own candidate, Lee Crouch.

Republicans hold a 6-3 majority on the board and hold all three officer positions. Darrell Trump is chairman and Mark Hughes is secretary. Kelly Plunkett, a Democrat on the board, contended that at least one position should have gone to a member of the minority party.

Plunkett and fellow Democrats Crouch and Dr. Alan Vaglivelo claim that board Republicans know the agenda, background on the issues and how the votes will turn out before they do because of discussions in their party's caucuses.

"Three out of the nine board members are in the dark on a daily basis on what affects the children," Plunkett said before the vote to create a vice chair position. "I will be voting no."

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Vaglivelo conceded that Republicans had the votes needed to elect their own choice for vice chair, but added, "I would request that you not keep us in the dark. Just try to keep us in the loop."

Jeff Guttman, a board member who is also chairman of the Republican Town Committee, said every board member wants what's best for the children.

"To allude that we're not informing everyone is a disservice to the board," Guttman said. "This is not you and me and us and them. We're all here to do a job."

"I agree with Jeff," said Mark Antinozzi, a board Republican. "We all make sure children are our number one interest."

Antinozzi said some other town boards put politics first, but not the school board, which he finds "refreshing."

Crouch had said the board should always strive to improve communication and transparency and Hughes said that is the goal.

Hughes said, "Part of the reason I wanted to create the office of vice chairman was to improve communication and transparency."

Trump has a lot on his plate as chairman, so timely communication is not always easy, according to Hughes, who said the vice chair will reduce Trump's workload.

Hughes also disagreed with Democrats' argument that information is sometimes withheld from them.

The vice chair position was adopted by a vote of 6-3.

A Board Election

Hughes nominated Lane to be vice chair, then Plunkett nominated Crouch.

Antinozzi said, "I think Ms. Lane is the most qualified from a financial standpoint, which is important to this board." He also touted her experience of serving on a PTO and involvement in events in the schools. "She will be an excellent vice chairman," he said. "I support her 100 percent."

Of Crouch, Plunkett said, "Of the nine people on this board, Lee is the most qualified." She talked about Crouch's 10 years of experience on the board, her having had children in the school system and her involvement in PTO's and committees. "I think she'd be a great fit for the executive board," Plunkett said.

Lane was chosen by a 6-3 vote along party lines.

"I'm honored," Lane said after the meeting. She said she was happy those who voted for her had confidence in her serving as vice chair.

Lane said she will work to ensure all board members feel more confident that the board is communicating well.

jim laguardia December 05, 2012 at 12:53 PM
First, the word "hire" in the headline makes it sound like they will be paid.... Second. In one breath they say they never hold any thing back and in the next it is Trump has a lot on his plate, so timely communication is not always easy???
Alex December 05, 2012 at 01:47 PM
"Antinozzi said some other town boards put politics first, but not the school board, which he finds "refreshing." So this board doesn't put politics first, yet you just voted along party lines...
jim laguardia December 05, 2012 at 01:59 PM
LOL
Bill Bittar (Editor) December 05, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Don't know why I used the word "hires"! Should have had more coffee yesterday.
jim laguardia December 05, 2012 at 03:02 PM
No biggie.... Just day after budget comes out that scared me for a second
Nancy Zorena December 05, 2012 at 03:30 PM
If memory serves there was a time when a the minority Board of Education member with the most votes became the chairman! In the 80's Democrat Mary Sowchuck served as Board of Ed.Chairman with a Republican Majority.
Steve Kirsch December 05, 2012 at 03:32 PM
In the past the minority has often nominated one of its own for the secretary position so that the leadership was split and they have not been successful. Even though it is not required by the new policy, maybe next time there is a vote to fill all three positions at the same time, the majority would support a minority secretary. After all, while the majority claimed that they communicate well with the minority today, they never offered a reason why a minority member as part of the overall leadership of the Board would be a bad thing.
Donna Gail December 05, 2012 at 04:09 PM
This whole thing is a joke. The Secretary of the BOE has always been treated as the Vice Chair. It's another waste of time. Maybe Hughes wasn't doing his job as Secretary. Otherwise, this is just another way for the Republicans to make themselves feel important and create more titles for themselves. Why would they consider Lane the best person for the position, when Lee Crouch has been on the BOE much longer and has implemented the mentoring program, been the chair or co-chair of the communications committee I believe, been instrumental in setting up the Monroe Education Foundation, and from my perspective at least, been one of the most dedicated and productive BOE members I've seen.
mark antinozzi December 05, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Hi Alex, Thank you for bringing this up. Though I truely respect and appreciate Mrs. Crouch's experience, knowledge and unselfish contributions, I believe Mrs. Lane has the financial experience, as well as the hands-on knowledge necessary to help Mr. Trump direct the board. I noted this during the nominating process, and this was why I voted the way I did. If anything, I believe the Democrats voted along party lines for a particular purpose, and not us Republicans. (Besides, I'm more of an Independent than anything else.) Most importantly however is that neither party has ever voted (to my knowledge) along party lines when the wellfare or instruction of our children were involved, nor do I think we ever will.
Alex December 05, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Thanks for the reply Mark, I appreciate your explanation of the way you voted. It's important to not only know how our officials voted, but also why. Voting along party lines has always been a pet peeve of mine. Obviously there are times when it makes sense, but most of the time the issues are not always black/white or democrat/republican. And when I see all the members of any board vote with their party you can't help but get cynical about their intentions. Despite my skepticism, I hope all our officials regardless of their party affiliation take each vote as objectively as possible when deciding how to vote on the issue.
mark antinozzi December 06, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Alex, I don't blame you for feeling the way you do, because I feel the same way. Maybe there's room for a third party initiative that would put more emphasis on issues rather than "Party Power". How to do this is the question, and nearly impossible to implement. Even if we resurected the old "Bull Moose" party as a standard, it probably wouldn't fly. So the only solution is to try to elect people who try to see the total picture and not throw others under the bus. Thank you for your thoughts.
Barney December 06, 2012 at 02:03 AM
This be an farming community not an education loving community. Education in town not be mattering because I’ve been told so by important people in town. I be talking with the first selectman and he be knowing this to be true. We gotta keep the business out of town and keep the education loving out of town and we be having the right man sitting at town hall for that. Monroe be about living off the land not hugging an education degree and that be the truth. This town be needing to keep business and education out because that be the smart way our first selectman be doing it.
jim laguardia December 06, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Please.... PLEASE stop with these posts, they are not funny !!!
Steve Kirsch December 06, 2012 at 06:59 AM
Alex, keep in mind that adding a third leadership position was a Republican idea. When the idea was brought forward for the first review, the minority suggested that the policy include a statement providing for minority representation in one of the three positions (not in any one specific position). The majority was not interested in that idea. Therefore, the minority was left to nominate someone based on their belief of what would be best for the Board over the long term. It is then logical that they voted for someone they nominated. As to Mark’s idea that party line votes have never taken place when it comes to educational issues, I’m fairly sure that this is not true if you go back to the days when there were individual motions to add or remove specific dollars or positions during the budget creation process. However, I do agree that there is generally bi-partisan, though not necessarily unanimous, support for most educational issues.
Barney December 06, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Mr. Laguardia I reckon you be spending all your time loving educating. I not be afraid to stand by the first selectman and say no to education. He and me be knowing education not be mattering. He and me be knowing business not be welcome in Monroe. This first selectman be making sure this town not be growing and that the way Monroe needs to be. There aint be nothing funny about that.
jim laguardia December 06, 2012 at 05:38 PM
You are right there is NOTHING FUNNY about it. It being your comments, just say what you want to say without the ridiculous persona
Alex December 06, 2012 at 05:48 PM
A 3rd party would be a great idea! Doesn't Newtown have a 3 party system?Perhaps we can learn more from their experience on the matter. I can attest that my views typically fall between each party depending on the issue, and that makes it difficult to relate to either party entirely. That said, I try to track how officials vote and use that as a basis for elections rather than whether they have a D or R next to their name.
bill December 08, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Why a party designation at all! Its a school board ,about the children!party line this and party line that just says to the casual reader that the board is self serving politics as usual from the bottom to the top!

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