WESTPORT — Longtime Board of Education member and current chairman Mark Mathias has announced he will forego seeking re-election this year.

Mathias has served for almost 16 years and is the longest serving member on the board. He announced his intent weeks after the nominating committee for the Democratic Town Committee recommended two new members for the BOE.

“I have recently heard from many people encouraging me to run for a fifth term,” Mathias said. “Their positive comments regarding my contributions to the Board of Education are deeply appreciated.”

Mathias noted the recently approved appropriation for Coleytown Middle School, the interim superintendent, and the departure of Staples High School Principal James D’Amico as some of the challenges faced over this school year.

“The Board has just completed what has been the most challenging and contentious year of my tenure,” he said. “I am pleased with the Board’s trajectory as we enter this academic year.”

Mathias said an engaged community provides excellent public guidance, adding a strong central office staff ensures the system runs well.

“All of these speak well for the future of Westport’s education system,” he said.

Looking ahead, Mathias said there will be many important tasks for the BOE, including the reopening of Coleytown, securing a permanent superintendent and likely redistricting.

“These are very significant responsibilities of the Board,” Mathias said. “Given the direction of the Board and my confidence that the Board and town will continue to deliver high-quality education that is the hallmark of Wesptort, I will retire from the Board of Education when my current term expires.”

Mathias ended his statement thanking those who helped him with their insight and intelligence over the past 16 years.

“Lastly, a thank you to my wife and children who haven’t seen me on most Monday evenings for the past 16 years and who supported my service on the Board,” Mathias said. “It has been my honor to serve the town and the students of Westport in this capacity.”

dj.simmons@hearstmediact.com