West Hartford Board of Education Elects Officers, Bids Goodbye to Outgoing Members

West Hartford Board of Education for 2019-2021 term. Photo credit: Ronni Newton (we-ha.com file photo)

The West Hartford Board of Education elected a new chair, vice chair, and financial examiners, and swore in newly-elected members Tuesday night.

Town Clerk Essie Labrot held a swearing in for Board of Education members elected Nov. 5 (from left): Ari Steinberg, Sean Passan, Amanda Aronson, Mark Zydanowicz. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

By Ronni Newton

The West Hartford Board of Education welcomed new members – and new leadership – Tuesday night, along with bidding goodbye to several members who did not run for re-election.

Deb Polun, who formerly served as vice chair, was unanimously voted chair of the West Hartford Board of Education, where she has been a member since 2017.

Polun takes over for Carol Anderson Blanks, who was elected chair in November 2018. Blanks did not run for re-election to the Board, but instead ran for, and was elected to, the West Hartford Town Council.

Lorna Thomas-Farquharson, formerly the Board’s secretary, was unanimously approved as vice chair, and Amanda Aronson was unanimously approved as secretary.

Rob Levine will serve as financial examiner for the Republican Party, and Polun will serve in that role for the Democrats.

Newly-elected Board Democrats Ari Steinberg and Sean Passan, and re-elected members Democrat Amanda Aronson and Republican Mark Zydanowicz, were sworn in by Town Clerk Essie Labrot Tuesday night, but not until members shared some remarks about the departing Dave Pauluk and Blanks – neither of whom sought re-election.

“I learned a tremendous amount from you … really respect how thorough and detailed you are,” Aronson said to Blanks.

Polun thanked Blanks for stepping up to become chair last year. “It’s been a great run having you as our chair. You are a steady, good listener, unflappable … respectful.”

Pauluk was praised for seemingly being everywhere.

“You are the board member I aspire to be,” Polun told Pauluk. When something needs to be done at any of the schools – even replacement of a new boiler or another piece of equipment –  he will always go check it out, and he’s always at the schools, meeting families, she said.

“Also, Dave is hilarious,” Polun added.

Thomas-Farquharson thanked Blanks for “advocating for those who don’t have a voice … thank you for walking the talk.”

Levine joked that Pauluk should have been paid for all the extra time he spent going to all of the schools. “Dave seems to be a cut above the rest in terms of his dedication.”

Zydanowicz, who served with Blanks the longest, praised her “exemplary” leadership, and said he is glad she will “have our backs over there,” supporting the schools when she joins the Town Council.

He also commented on how Pauluk seems to be everywhere, and commended his approach to issues. “You could take a very tough topic … you almost bring a Mr. Rogers approach, always calm, cool, and collected.”

“Mr. Rogers, I’m going to cherish that,” replied Pauluk, who also offered goodbye messages to Board members, and words of appreciation to Superintendent Tom Moore and the student representatives.

“Thank you and to all of my board colleagues over the past four years. It’s been an honor and a pleasure to serve,” Blanks said.

Blanks noted that former Board member Tammy Exum told her that the Board would come to feel like a family, and that proved true.

She thanked staff in the superintendent’s office, Moore, and all of the directors. “The wealth of the knowledge that all of you and your talent combined is what makes the district outstanding,” Blanks said.

“The past few years were amazing; I came into this board as a freshman and this is like a high school graduation,” Blanks said. “I’m not going far. I’m on the same channel, just another night,” she said. Board of Education meetings are generally held the first and third Tuesdays of the month, while the Town Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesday. Meetings are shown live on West Hartford Community Interactive.

Both Pauluk and Blanks were presented with commemorative chairs in recognition of their service.

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