Board of Education member Carl Gardiner has resigned from the elected body effective Oct. 1, according to a letter on file at Town Hall.
The Republican is relocating out-of-state due to work, he said in a letter received Sept. 24 in the Town Clerk’s office (full text below).
It’s unclear who will fill the remaining two years on Gardiner’s term. It’s too late for his seat to appear on the ballot for Nov. 2, so the Board of Ed itself will decide who his successor is.
At the Board’s regular meeting Monday, Chair Katrina Parkhill said the group would decide on Gardiner’s successor “at a future meeting.”
She thanked Gardiner for his “strong sense of purpose and commitment to achieving best outcome for all students.”
“He always brought his thoughtful honest approach and well researched perspectives to enrich our discussions,” she said.
A data scientist elected in 2019, Gardiner in a short time established himself as an independent and nonpartisan voice on the school board. At times he argued in favor of initiatives and voted with Democratic counterparts—such as for the new school start times schedule to take effect in the second half of this academic year—while at other times he voted against the majority. For example, last year he voted with one fellow Republican against a motion to codify or formalize the district’s existing practice of delegating the process by which curriculum is developed, reviewed and approved by an administrative team known as the Curriculum Leadership Council, saying such a move was not necessary and hadn’t been discussed for long enough to warrant the vote.
Part of Gardiner’s resignation letter reads, “Everyone should share information they come across that helps inform studied, fact-based decision-making, as well as their personal situations and views. I hope everyone does so with a large reservoir of mutual goodwill. We all share a common objective of doing what is best for our young people; it is fine and healthy to have a dialogue on the best means to accomplish this objective, but we can never lose sight of that common good purpose.”
The Board of Ed race is contested this year, with one two-year term and five four-year terms up for election. Republicans at their July caucus endorsed four candidates to fill seats already held by GOP members. The Democratic Town Committee endorsed one candidate for a two-year term and five candidates for four-year terms.
Here’s the full text of Gardiner’s letter:
“I hereby resign my seat on the New Canaan Board of Education, effective Oct. 1, 2021. My career has given rise to an increasing need to travel to Montana, and I will be relocating there on a permanent basis.
“This is a positive career development for me personally, but I regret it means having to give up my position during a time of continued great consequence for our schools. As any New Canaan resident should be, I am proud of the performance of our schools through the pandemic. This difficult period has made clear the paramount importance of in-person learning, and our students have benefited from more time in the classroom than any others in our state and perhaps country. The reasons for this success are simple: our teachers have been willing to go into the classroom, and they have been willing to do so because they have trusted the administration and town leadership to protect them.
“I understand this letter will be a matter of public record, so I want to write a few words of encouragement to my fellow citizens, neighbors and friends. The Board of Ed will continue to face decisions on difficult issues on which there are many points of view and often strong feelings. If and when the governor’s executive order on mask wearing inside schools expires, and I hope it does so that this decision can be made locally based on our unique facts and circumstances, this issue could be the first of these potentially contentious issues on which a decision is made.
“Everyone should share information they come across that helps inform studied, fact-based decision-making, as well as their personal situations and views. I hope everyone does so with a large reservoir of mutual goodwill. We all share a common objective of doing what is best for our young people; it is fine and healthy to have a dialogue on the best means to accomplish this objective, but we can never lose sight of that common good purpose. If anyone is ever in doubt on this, I urge them to reply one of our BOE meetings—the one of September 8 is a fine example—at which our administrators, principals, teachers and PTC leaders speak on their recent activities. The energy, passion and concern expressed by them and the very specific actions they take to take care of and enrich our young people is inspiring.
“With goodwill and all best wishes,
“Carl W. Gardiner.”
NewCanaanite.com will update this article with comments and a possible vote on the Oct. 4 Board of Ed meeting.
[Editor: This article has been updated with information from the Board of Ed’s regular meeting Oct. 4. Comments are disabled on this article. More info here.]