BERLIN - The Board of Education has two new members.
Former Mayor Adam Salina and Griswold Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization President Tracy Sisti were appointed on May 29 to fill the vacancies left by Fredrick Morley Jr. and Jeffrey Cugno.
Morley, 19, resigned earlier in the year to focus on his nursing school studies.
Cugno resigned on May 22 after being appointed director of business operations for the school district, effective July 1.
Both seats are to be contested in November, so the appointees will serve until then.
“I love my town, I love the place where I grew up and the place where I raise my family and I want to see it prosper,” said Salina. “Sadly, it looks like we’re back to the days of 2001 when we had massive budget cuts and Board of Education cuts, and losing programs and sports and activities and things for the kids. Rather than being a spectator I thought I’d get involved again.”
Salina was mayor from 2003 to 2013. A 1993 graduate of Berlin High School, he attended Stanford University, where he played football, and spent time with several NFL teams before moving back to Berlin in 2000.
He is a principal at Kozak & Salina, a government relations and lobbying firm, and a board member of the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain.
“If (people) want their home values to go up, they need a strong educational system, because people that are moving into town are young people with families, and they’re not going to move if they look at Berlin as the town that continuously cuts programs,” Salina continued. “People need to become a little more energized and less complacent when we only have 12 to 13 percent of people coming out to vote for a budget, I have a problem with that as well.”
Salina will serve on the Communications Committee and work to get information out about the school district, he said.
He is married to Danielle Salina, a library media specialist at Griswold Elementary School, and has three daughters in the Berlin school system, in eighth, sixth and fourth grades.
“I’m very, very passionate about all aspects of our education,” said Sisti. “I have experience in drama, sports, music, Upbeat, all the different areas, and I think it’s important we’re training our children now for jobs we don’t even know exist.”
An officer manager for her husband, Bob’s, employer, PNG Insurance, she is the mother of three children: one in college, one at McGee Middle School and one at Griswold.
“There’s things out there 10 years from now …. that all these things in the Common Core and that we’re putting together are for jobs that aren’t even here yet,” she continued.
Sisti also said she also wanted to help with communication between the board and residents.
“I don’t think parents really know what’s happening, and I think it’s our job to start communicating better when it comes to budget cuts and when it comes to voting,” said Sisti.
People who want to run for the nonpartisan school board in November must get petitions at the Town Clerk’s Office, and obtain 139 signatures, or 1 percent of the electorate, in order to be on the ballot.
As of Monday afternoon, Sisti and current board member Julia Motte Dennis, who holds the third seat up for election this November, have submitted their petitions and will be on the ballot, according to Town Clerk Kate Wall.
Salina, along with Diane Richards, Andrew Legnani, Samantha Grady, Brian Delude and Gary Brochu, have taken out petitions.
Petitions are due by Wednesday, Aug. 8.
Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or firstname.lastname@example.org.