With a two-vote margin, Durham resident Melissa Booth became the newest member of the Regional School District 13 Board of Education Monday.
More than 200 residents voted during the annual town budget meeting May 13, to elect incumbent Victor Friedrich and new member Booth to the board’s two expiring terms. Booth narrowly won over incumbent Philip Augur, who was vying for a second term.
Booth, a resident of Durham since 2004, has two children in district schools. She will start her three-year term at the board’s first meeting in July. Augur will continue his term through June.
In her remarks before the vote, Booth said she has the “utmost respect” for everyone on the board and recognizes the time commitment.
“I think it's a time of change right now as we're moving to one program and there's probably going to be some bumps in the road, but I feel if we all come together, we can make this the best education for all of our students while also being fiscally responsible,” Booth said.
Of the 246 people who voted, 74 voted for Booth and 72 for Augur. Friedrich won 100 votes.
On Tuesday, Augur extended his congratulations to Friedrich and Booth.
“Both are clearly committed and I am confident they will do their best!” Augur said in an email. A business trip kept him away from the Monday meeting, but he called in through First Selectman Laura Francis to make remarks and answer audience questions before the vote.
Augur said over the course of his term on the board some people believed his actions were personally motivated. However, he said he had firsthand experience growing up in a district that started combining younger grades and saw how “the ability to more efficiently expend scarce resources across a single program is self-evident.”
“Many people thanked me for helping the district finally take the step to move forward with a single program. I am content to have played my small part in that process and am thus satisfied with my time in office,” he said.
Augur, a supporter of the “Portrait of the Graduate” program, encourages everyone to participate in guiding the district forward in the new single program approach.
Friedrich was elected to his third term, after six years on the board.
“I'm happy that I will be able to continue to serve our community and our children,” Friedrich said.
Middlefield board members Lucy Petrella and Robert Yamartino were voted back onto the board with no opposition. Both members’ terms were set to expire this June and will be renewed for another three-year term.