Op-Ed: Opposes Region 9 School Board Appointment

The last Board of Selectmen meeting included a vote to appoint a new member to the Region 9 Board of Education. The vacancy came up because one of the elected members is moving out of town. That member happens to be a Republican. I strongly believe that education should not be politicized, but mention the affiliation because I’m fearful my fellow board members’ actions on this matter are a clear example of it.

The Easton Republican Town Committee interviewed and recommended a candidate, a person I happen to know and believe would be a tremendous asset to the Region 9 Board. In presenting that candidate, I talked about her dedication to the schools and youth groups in our town, the thoughtfulness and consideration I’ve seen her give to issues and events, as well as the fact that she is an unaffiliated voter. My colleagues also had a copy of her brief bio to review.

In response to this candidate, my fellow selectmen stated that they did not know her and therefore were concerned about appointing her to this position. At a time when we are encouraging people to become more involved in our community and town issues, my counterparts essentially discouraged anyone who they don’t know from volunteering to serve. I think that’s the wrong message to send and a poor reason to discredit a qualified candidate.

My colleagues instead supported the candidate from the Democratic Town Committee, someone who is deeply involved in and very public about her position on many of the difficult issues currently facing our school boards. I have nothing but respect for this person but believe her appointment at this current time is not in the best interest of our students or community.

The Region 9 Board of Education now consists of seven Democrats and one Republican, with all four of Redding’s seats held by Democrats. While the recent appointment does not change the overall balance of the board, it does change Easton’s representation. Voters in Easton chose to elect two Republicans and two Democrats, essentially taking the politics out of education.

I believe the Board of Selectmen should have honored that outcome and replaced the outgoing member with someone supported by the same party. My actions in the past support this belief.  I also believe in balance, especially when it comes to education. Having a diversity of voices and thought on the boards of education is in the best interest of all our students.

Ultimately, the voters get to decide. The recently appointed member will be on the ballot in November in addition to two full-term positions for the Region 9 Board of Education.

Kristi Sogofsky

Easton Board of Selectmen