Stating that the children of the district need to come first, Amity Board of Education Vice-Chairman Thomas Duplinsky, DDS, resigned from the board late Monday evening faxing his resignation to First Selectman Mitchell Goldblatt.

"My concern is for the budget to pass," Duplinsky said. "The whole issue is mired in controversy."

"Who knows the truth?" He continued. "It's been lost. "The public has become conditioned right now with wanting the five of us to resign. My hope is that by resigning the referendum will pass."

Duplinsky is one of the named nine board members whose resignation was called for by the Tri Town Amity Investigation Committee. The Committee, created by the first selectmen of Bethany, Orange and Woodbridge, was to determine what caused the two-year $2.8 million deficit.

School Board Chairwoman Sue Cohen of Orange said she was sorry to see him leave, but thanked him for thinking of the district.

"I will miss Tom's counsel, Cohen said. "The region has benefited from his dedication and hard work. I know he is responding to the message the voters have given at each failed referendum.

"I also know it is his hope that the four remaining board members named by the tri-town committee will follow his lead," she continued. "While we all appreciate his gesture, it is important to acknowledge the measure of Tom's contributions. His resignation is a loss to the community, but it will allow Amity to move on."

In addition to thinking of what's best for the district, Duplinsky said it was time to get back to his family roots.

"My family has suffered the last three years.for the benefit of Amity," he said.

Duplinsky would average 30 to 40 hours a week on Amity issues in addition to his full-time dental practice.

When asked why he ran for the board in the first place Duplinsky said he wanted to make things better for the students and staff.

"The only reason I ran for the board was to solve the environmental issues," he said. "Little did I know I would be stepping into a hornet's nest. I have not been able to address the environmental problems because I have had to continuously put out fires."

Duplinsky said his biggest accomplishment while on the board was getting fresh air into the high school.

"I finally got fresh air into the building. That was done by working to get the balancing and testing done. Carole Briggs held up the testing. That was the first time the high school had fresh air. It was completed January, 2002" Duplinsky said.

He described his biggest disappointment as being entangled in the deficit.

"Being wrapped up in the budget deficit took attention away from the students instead of doing good for the school. Instead of concentrating on doing good for the school we've been combating negative forces," he said.

Throughout the financial crisis the students have continued to learn Duplinsky said.

"The high quality academics have miraculously been preserved despite a decaying infrastructure thanks only to a dedicated teaching staff. They have had to endure many months of controversy and through this have consistently put out children first," Duplinsky said

Bethany board member William Blake, who chairs the Special Review Committee doing an internal audit into the deficit, praised Duplinsky's decision.

"On a personal note I am sad to see Tom go. He has worked hard and diligently for the better health of the children of the District. I do think though his decision is in the best interest of moving forward. He has put the school's interest before his own and I applaud him and thank him for his years of service. I'm sure this was a difficult decision for him," Blake said.

Duplinsky said he was glad to know that Superintendent of Schools Helene Skrzyniarz was in place to lead Amity.

"One of the main reasons I have stayed this long is to assure environmental issues are moving forward. Now that we have a new superintendent that is very capable of solving the environmental issues facing the district I am more comfortable with leaving," Duplinsky said.

Skrzyniarz said she was sorry to learn Duplinsky was leaving.

"Tom is a brave and honorable man to do this. We have lost a good source of history on facilities. This is very unfortunate," she said.

When asked if she thought the referendum would pass with Duplinsky's resignation Skrzyniarz said only the voters knew.

"I honestly don't know since I don't know what is in the mind of the voters. I never saw Tom as guilty. In looking back, Tom always seemed to be proactive," Skrzyniarz said.

"It would be to everyone's advantage to pass the referendum," he added. "The New England Assoc. of School Accreditation will be reviewing Amity in March and Amity will look good if it has an approved budget in February," Duplinsky said.

Duplinsky's accomplishments

On Sports Review Committee

Improved student handbook

Improved rules protecting student-athletes

Fostered positive coach-athlete relationships

Created controls for parent/student complaints

Ad Hoc Facilities Expansion Committee

Chaired

Created after failure of expansion referenda

Committee developed solutions for deteriorating junior high schools

Financial resolutions

Instrumental in hire of Atty. Tim Fisher as successor to Briggs in Atlas litigation

Brought closure in six months. Briggs had worked on case for three years

Chaired Mediation Committee which resulted in recovery of $2.7 million and withdrawal of $6 million suit against Amity

Discovered Briggs over-billing.

Assisted. in selection of audit firm that determined $800,000 overcharged

Assisted in selection of firm which found six counts of malpractice against Briggs

Possible recovery of $1 million

Other accomplishments

Recommended creation of Superintendent's Environmental Committee

Worked to hire Gil Cormier, Industrial Hygienist

Worked to get out of ServiceMaster and Kahn contracts

Worked to pay off BAN's with Atlas Settlement saving $300,000 interest