After nearly ten years and over 200 meetings, Tom Birdwell is stepping down from the Monroe Board of Education. His last meeting was Monday, December 14, 2009. The 54-year-old Birdwell is the last member of the original school board that helped launch the district in 2000, when they broke away from the Middletown City Schools. The other members were John Birch, Carol Brotherton, Jamie Pierce and Suzi Rubin.
Birdwell, who is a retired engineering manager from GE Aircraft Engines, chose not to run for re-election in November, but told the Middletown Journal the job has been the most rewarding and the most exhausting he's ever had, "Being on two boards, I packed 18 years of board experiences into 10 years, and that is a lot. I don’t support fixed term limits, but (I) do believe there is some real benefit to managerial turnover. My General Electric management experience definitely taught me that management needs a fresh eye."
Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli told the Middletown Journal that Birdwell will be missed. "He has served the Monroe community and the students of the district well. He has many things to be proud of as a board member, including the completion of a new school for grades K-12," she said.
Birdwell said the five months he spent trying to get the district up and running were the hardest he's ever worked in his life but he sees the fall 2000 opening as the greatest accomplishment during his tenure. He pointed out that the schools went from close to Academic Emergency to being ranked as "excellent." But he also says the district has challenges ahead, such as addressing increasing enrollment.
Even though he is getting up his post, he is not going away. "I plan to participate as a volunteer in future district activities, especially when the state finally frees up funding for our facilities needs and our community approves it," he told the Middletown Journal.
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