Monday, August 13, 2012
By James Lomuscio
UPDATE Saying he’s “run out of arrows in my quiver,” juggling his professional and volunteer life, Westport Board of Education Chairman Donald O’Day resigned tonight after seven years on the board, four as chair.
“What I’ve been doing for the last, well, seven years, but particularly over the last three to four years as chair, has been struggling and juggling my professional responsibilities with my volunteer responsibilities,” he said at the beginning of the board meeting.
“And as much as the volunteer responsibilities mean to me, because it’s truly an honor to be on this Board of Education and to be part of this school system, I think I have run out of arrows in my quiver to be able to juggle it.”
O’Day, who is employed as chief administrative officer at CitiMortgage Risk Management, said he expected Vice Chairman Jim Marpe to take over. O’Day is a Democrat while Marpe is a Republican. The Democratic Town Committee now will have to nominate a replacement to fill the vacancy on the seven-member board, a nominee the remaining school board must approve.
“There are a lot of things I’m proud of on this board,” said O’Day. “What I’m most proud of is that in the seven years I’ve been on the board, there hasn’t been one decision that was partisan. I hope we continue in that manner.”
Marpe, who described O’Day as a friend, as well as a colleague, noted that despite their different political affiliations, “we shared a common sense commitment to excellence in our public schools.” Marpe lauded O’Day for successfully leading “us through four of the most challenging budget cycles” with the “most thorough and transparent Board of Education budgets that anyone can remember.”
Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon concurred, noting that O’Day’s budget savvy helped to establish a level of trust with the Board of Finance “I haven’t seen in 14 years.”
“You’ve taken us through these difficult economic times in ways few could have,” said Landon.
Landon’s comments were echoed by a letter Marpe read from Avi Kaner, chairman of the finance board.
“Under Don’s leadership, communication with the Board of Finance has been at an all time high,” said Kaner, a Republican.
School board member Elaine Whitney praised O’Day as “a dedicated advocate for nurturing the excellence of our school system.”
O’Day, whose lifelong hero has been Robert F. Kennedy, was presented with a three books about Kennedy by Marpe. Whitney handed O’Day campaign buttons from Kennedy’s 1968 presidential bid.
Reflecting on Kennedy, O’Day said he was most impressed with the way his hero struggled to get people to work together despite their differences during adverse times.
On a smaller scale, as school board chairman, he said, “what I tried to do was to get everybody to work together.”
First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, who said he was not told in advance of O’Day’s resignation, also wished him well.
“As someone who has had a town leadership role for 17 years as RTM Moderator and now First Selectman, I know only too well the sacrifices one has to make. Don has done a good job and can be proud of what he has achieved.”
Posted 08/13/12 at 11:57 PM
Westport and its Board of Education have been very well served by Don O’Day. He has provided leadership. He has served with integrity and energy. Westport’s students have benefited because of his contribution.
I enjoyed working with Don O’Day while I was on the BOF. He was a straight shooter who was willing to work on a bipartisan basis to solve problems. I’m sure he will be missed by the BOE and School District. I know he will be missed by members of the BOE and BOF. He leaves a large legacy which I hope serves as a model for all public servents.
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