In a surprising move, Wilton Board of Education chairman Bruce Likly announced at Thursday evening’s meeting that he would be stepping down as chairman. At the start of the meeting he asked to amend the evening’s agenda to allow for a vote to determine a new slate of leadership for the Board as he had decided he needed to step down, “…for both business and personal reasons.”

At the end of the meeting, the board voted 5-0 to name vice chair Chris Finkelstein as chair; secretary Laura Schwemm was voted (5-0) vice chair to replace Finkelstein; and Lory Rothstein was voted (5-0) secretary to replace Schwemm.

Likly will remain on the board until his term is finished at the end of November.

During his Board chairman’s report Likly told the board and administrators that serving as the BoE chair for the past six years, “…has been one of the highest honors of my life.”

“I’ve loved doing it, I’ve loved working with each and every one of you. As many of you know over the past six months my business life has gotten incredibly busy. I now have a child that I’m chasing all over the country for field hockey. I don’t have the time to put into the chairmanship role that I believe it deserves. I feel very strongly about the work we’ve done, I feel strongly about the collaboration we’ve all put in, and I feel very strongly that everyone at the table has a voice at all times. Not being able to put 110% into it is why I’m stepping down at the end of the night and asking you to vote someone else in. It’s an appropriate time, ideally I would have like to go through the end of November, but I know what my time table is over the next few weeks,” he said, adding “As a matter of fact, I hop on a plane at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. Now’s the right time.”

Dr. Kevin Smith was up next, as usual, with the superintendent’s report. He took a bit to collect himself, visibly affected by Likly’s announcement. “It’s hard to follow that. It’s a pleasure, as always. I have a number of things to report, gathering myself here.”

After she was named chair, Finkelstein thanked the Board for the honor, before addressing Likly directly. “It truly is something I never in my life thought I would be. Bruce it’s been an honor and a pleasure to serve as your vice chair,” she said. Then, with an aside to two of the candidates running for Bd. of Education who were observing in the audience, she added, “One of the things you learn when you go for your BoE orientation is that when you get a chairman, you keep that person for as long as you possibly can. We were blessed to have you for six years. You truly have a passion for this. You truly are a Wilton Warrior.”

The upcoming election will change the face of the Board somewhat anyway, as there are three seats up for election, and only one current board member whose term is up–Glenn Hemmerle–is running for re-election. Likly will term out at the end of November, and Chris Stroup has decided not to run again. Whomever gets elected will take their seats as of Dec. 1, but for the next two months there is now a different leadership structure for the Board.

The article was updated to reflect the vote at the end of the evening for the new BoE leadership slate.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.