West Haven Board of Education chooses Rosemary Russo as its new chairwoman
TheWest Haven Board of Education unanimously elected Democrat Rosemary Russo to be its new chairwoman last Monday, in an organizational meeting that had none of the drama of the days leading up to it.
The board also voted unanimously to re-elect incumbent Republican Bob Guthrie to serve as vice chairman and incumbent Democrat Susan Walker to serve as secretary-Treasurer for the next two years.
Both served in those same positions for the past two years.
Mayor Nancy Rossi — whom both Russo and outgoing Chairman Jim Morrissey had criticized earlier this month for not calling the meeting sooner after the new mayor and other city officials took office on Dec. 3 — called the meeting to order.
Rossi congratulated Russo after the single nomination for chairman was in and before the vote, then gave Russo a hug after she was elected.
“I think she will make an excellent chair of this Board of Education,” Rossi said.
Morrissey, who is West Haven’s Democratic town chairman, also congratulated Russo.
“I’m very proud to serve on this board, which is comprised of people who have been involved with children either as coach and mentors, as well as those who have worked directly in public school classrooms,” said Russo, an educator herself.
The current board has among its members two retired teachers, one of whom also has served as an administrator, and three active teachers, Russo said.
Together, they have a combined 140 years of teaching, “which provides us with a wealth of experience and knowledge to draw on,” said Russo.
“Together, the nine of us make a formidable board, which I know will work extremely hard for the children of West Haven as well as for the taxpayers,” she said.
“As I’m sure you are aware, there will be challenging financial times,” Russo said. “Together, I believe we will be able to continue to provide our students with a quality education.”
The board “will need to work alongside Superintendent (Neil) Cavallaro, Dr. (Anne) Druzolowski,” the school system’s assistant superintendent, and Business Manager Matt Cavallaro, “with open communication being the key,” Russo said.
“This line of open communication needs also to extend to Mayor Rossi and ... I look forward to working with all of you,” she said.
Russo encouraged board members to visit the schools and talk to teachers and staff. She also encouraged teachers, parents and administrators to come to board meetings.
“You are a vital part of the team,” she said. “I pledge to work my hardest for all involved. But remember, we are all a part of the team.”
Monday’s meeting came a few days after Russo and Morrissey blasted Rossi for not calling the Board of Education’s organization meeting sooner, saying that in the past, mayors generally have called for organizational meetings of both the City Council and the Board of Education on the Monday immediately following Inauguration Sunday.
This year, only the City Council met — although all sides acknowledged that according to the City Charter the mayor had until Dec. 31 to call a meeting.
Rossi said at the time that there was no reason why the board couldn’t hold its organizational meeting at the start of a meeting and then move on to its business.
But Morrissey and Russo both said that without a chairman, who controls the agenda, the board could not hold a regular meeting.