O'Day steps down as school board chairman
By Paul Schott
Board of Education Chairman Don O'Day resigned Monday night, ending a nearly seven-year tenure on the panel.
"What I've been doing the last seven years, but particularly over the last three to four years as chair is I've been struggling and juggling my professional responsibilities with my volunteer responsibilities," O'Day said. "As much as the volunteer responsibilities mean to me -- because I'm truly honored to be on this Board of Education and be part of this school system -- I think I've run out of arrows in my quiver to be able to juggle them."
O'Day, a Democrat, was elected to the school board in 2005 and re-elected in 2009. Since late 2008, he has been the board's chairman, leading his board colleagues through the town's four budget cycles since the 2008 global financial crisis.
He works professionally as the chief administrative officer of CitiMortgage's risk management division in Stamford.
O'Day's resignation took effect at the end of Monday's meeting. He endorsed the board's Republican vice chairman, Jim Marpe, to succeed him as chairman, likening him to the New York Yankees' venerable closer, Mariano Rivera.
"He will be an outstanding chair," O'Day said. "I leave without having any worries about the direction that this board will be taking." Bipartisan collaboration characterized O'Day's tenure as school board chairman. During the last budget cycle, the education board unanimously approved a $100.2 million education spending package for the current fiscal year. Both the Board of Finance and the Representative Town Meeting unanimously approved that proposed operating budget. Last year, the operating budget submitted to those bodies by the Board of Education also won unanimous backing.
"One of the things I'm most proud of is that in the seven years since I've been on the board there hasn't been a single decision that has been partisan," O'Day added.
O'Day's colleagues responded with disappointment to his announcement, but praised his leadership.
"Don's professionalism and thoroughness during some very difficult budget discussions and presentations have earned him the confidence and respect of his fellow board members, as well as members of the Board of Finance, the RTM and our taxpayers," Marpe said.
Marpe also commended O'Day for not being "afraid" to take on other elected town officials, Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon and "vocal" parents, when he disagreed with them.
Elaine Whitney, a Democratic board member, also highlighted the conciliatory tone of O'Day relationships with other public officials and constituents.
"You've shown great leadership and professionalism in guiding the work of the board," she said. "You've been consistently focused on the strategic impact of our decisions, and you've also been very effective at communicating our goals, policies and actions to other town officials and to the community that we serve." Landon also lauded O'Day's public service.
"You've taken us through these difficult times in ways that I think few could have," he said.
To maintain the Board of Education's current political alignment, O'Day's successor will be a Democrat, as mandated by the town's charter. The Democratic Town Committee will recommend a candidate to replace O'Day, but the school board must approve that choice before he or she can take office.
Democrats currently hold a 4-3 majority on the Board of Education.
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