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Fairfield School Superintendent Resigns

Susan Prasse

(12/10) At a closed door executive meeting of the Fairfield School Board, School Superintendent Chain tendered his resignation. In a 5 to 3 vote, the school board had accepted the "irrevocable resignation and retirement" of Chain. Ms. Karen Kugler has been appointed as Substitute Superintendent effective December 23.

Prior to the vote accepting his resignation, board member Lonny Whitcomb suggested that the board seek a second legal opinion to extend Chainís contract by one year. However, District solicitor Brooke Say advised the board that a one-year contract extension would not be possible. Whitcomb responded that he had contacted Rep. Dan Moulís office and was told that a one-year contract extension was possible if both parties mutually agreed. However, the motion to seek a second opinion on the extension failed 5-3.

Appearing humbled and thankful, Chain said that a district's success is not due to the superintendent; rather, it is the superintendent's job to "cheer on" others. "In order to make a difference in a young person's life, you have to show them that you care. It's no different for a superintendent. The superintendent has to be a role model," he said. It's been an honor to serve the community."

The board then listened to public comments, all of which focused on the frustration attendees had with the decision of the superintendent to step down and the unwillingness of the board to explore a one year extension of his contract. "We deeply regret losing a superintendent who had strong ties with the community and an open door policy," said Lisa Sturges, president of the Fairfield Education Association.

The board then heard presentations from the seven community members on their qualifications to fill the seat vacated by former board member Brad Rigler, who stepped down at the November 3rd. Each candidate was asked to publicly answer two questions which related to their qualifications to server on the board. Following the candidate comment period, both Bruce Carr and Michael Ball were nominated for the seat. Then in a 5-3 vote, the majority voted for Carr, whose qualifications included being a retired Air Force vet. "I see an awful lot of discord, and this is an opportunity to get rid of that," he said.

The vote erupted in a visible protest from some attendees. Resident Sarah Laird vehemently objected to Carr taking the oath of office, stating that he had not submitted his financial interest disclosure as required by the state. Hatter attempted to silence her comments but without success. After a brief adjournment to verify the rule, district solicitor Brooke Say agreed that Carr would have to submit the documentation before being seated on the board. None of the candidates had included a disclosure as it was not part of the newly formed board application instructions. Finally, in another pair of 5-3 votes, the board formally elected Hatter as its new president and Matthews as vice president. The next school board meeting will be held on January 12 at 7pm.

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