School Board Members Pledge to Get Along Better
October 2, 2015
by Barbara O’Brien
Windham School Board members have consistently been at odds with one another since last March’s election; clashing over various issues in public and, apparently, in non-public session. Hopes are that such behavior has come to an end. At least, that seems to be the intention.
During the school board meeting on Sept. 29, Rob Breton, who has undoubtedly been the most even-tempered member during the past six months, made a plea to his fellow board members. “This school board member on school board member crime has to stop,” Breton said. “It’s killing our initiatives!” Breton made it clear that he hadn’t run for school board two years ago because he wanted a pat on the back. “I just want to be part of the solution; part of the team,” Breton said. “We’re really destroying the greater good here,” he continued. “We need to do our job!” Referring to the ongoing negative behavior between certain board members, Breton said, “I expect it to change!”
Board member Dennis Senibaldi acknowledged that the past several months have been “difficult,” but said he still feels a lot of things have been getting done. Senibaldi also said he realizes that board members need to get along better for the benefit of students. Senibaldi said he wanted to see board members work in a manner that makes all of them feel good at the end of each meeting.
School board member Daniel Popovici-Muller, who was elected last March, described the last six months as being very, very long. Popovici-Muller encouraged board members to deal with personality conflicts outside of school board meetings and to focus on the business at hand during meetings.
Vice-Chairman Tom Murray said, “It would be nice if we could just push the reset button and move forward.” Board members should serve as a team and not be questioning one another’s “motives,” Murray stated. “We need to improve the level of decorum; we need to be respectful and courteous,” Murray said. “I feel we can get there.”
Chairman Ken Eyring agreed that the animosity and squabbling needs to come to a halt, and school board members need to work together to solve the plethora of problems currently facing the Windham School District. “We need to move forward, putting the students first,” Eyring said.
When the discussion was opened up to the public, long-time resident and business owner Tony Massahos came to the podium. “I like what I’m hearing here tonight,” Massahos said, adding that he truly wants to believe the acrimony that has been taking place at board meetings will come to a halt. Massahos noted the antagonistic behavior, failure to obey Roberts’ Rules of Order and disrespect exhibited by certain board members. “It’s been an onslaught,” Massahos said. “I’ve lived in Windham since 1985 and really never seen anything like this.” “I hope we can turn the page,” he told school board members.
Massahos, who had written a letter to the editor several weeks ago, concerning certain behavior alleged to have been engaged in by Senibaldi, asked Senibaldi to apologize to resident Cynthia Finn for “berating” her in public. During a school board meeting last month, Senibaldi had publically indicated that Finn provided Massahos with some of the information contained in his letter to the editor. Finn denied being involved in the issue shortly after Senibaldi made the accusation. Two weeks later, during the Sept. 29 meeting, Massahos stood up for Finn, stating that she was in no way involved in the writing of his letter to the editor. Senibaldi did not offer Finn an apology during the meeting.
Ending on a positive note, Massahos commended Breton for the manner in which he conducts himself at meetings. “Rob is always respectful, but still gets his point across,” Massahos said, encouraging all school board members to follow his example.