Reception Held For Departing Board Of Education Members

Courant Community

With a cumulative total of 40 years, five members of the Board of Education are saying their final farewells after serving the Town of Windsor in this role.

A reception was held on Tuesday, Oct. 17 to say thank you and goodbye to Board President Cristina Santos, Minority Leader Paul Panos, Secretary Richard O'Reilly, and members Melissa Rizzo Holmes and Yvette Ali.

Panos has been a member of the board for two decades. He has served under more than six different superintendents. When asked why he finally decided to step away from this role, he said, "grandchildren."

"You have to draw the line somewhere," he said. "I may regret it, but it's the decision I made."

Panos says he may still come to meetings or speak at them during the portion where audience participation is given to residents.

Santos is leaving her position to spend more time with her family. Santos has been on the board for 10 years, under three different superintendents.

As Santos looks back on her 10 years, she says there are a lot of things she is proud of accomplishing.

In particular, Santos looks back at the Academic Eligibility Policy, which she described as an "embarrassment" prior to her arrival. She says she was also pleased to have been a part of all the work that went into the elementary school reorganization, which occurred approximately six years ago.

Finally, she is thrilled to have seen the new Office of Family and Community Partnership opened this school year.

"[It was a] much needed conduit between schools and families," said Santos.

O'Reilly has been a board member for six years. Unlike his peers, he is not going to be retiring from public service though, as he has decided to run for a position in the Town Council. He is interested in using his time to serve the Town of Windsor in a "different way."

Holmes came on as a board member four years ago. During her time on the board, she has been a part of working on the achievement gap and on addressing the issues surrounding Windsor being on the Alliance District list. These are the schools which have been identified in Connecticut as being the lowest performing.

Holmes feels like more work needs to continue when it comes to the achievement gap in Windsor.

"We talked about it [during my tenure], but we didn't dig into it as much as I would have liked," she said, and added that she hopes the person who replaces her will "continue that discussion."

Also leaving is Ali, a member for two years. Ali says the position can be very time consuming and it's time for her to "move on." During her time on the board, she feels that "scores have started to move in the right direction and that we made some policy updates which I feel proud of."

Come election time, four Republican seats and five Democratic seats will be open.

Running for these positions for the Republicans are Michaela Fissell-Fryxell, Jeremy Halek, Ron Eleveld, and Brian Bosch. Running on the Democratic ticket are Nuchette M. Black-Burke, Jim Dobler, David Furie, Maryam Khan, and Leonard Lockhart.

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