Russ Gomes has been a school board member for 16 years, serving as Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary. He has chaired the High School Building Committee for the past 6 years.
An Old Lyme resident for 30+ years, he is a Small Business Consultant Field Representative for the State of Connecticut. Russ has taught Business/Marketing at Three Rivers Community College, and is a member of both the Lyme-Old Lyme Chamber of Commerce and the Cable Advisory Board. In 2005, he received a Certificate of Appreciation from the CT Business Education Association for outstanding dedication and contribution to Business Education.
Name the three characteristics (one word for each) that you believe will make you an effective member of the board of education? Expand on the one that you feel should be most significant to the voters.
The three characteristics that have made me an effective member of the Board of Education are: Leadership, Dedication, and Experience.
The characteristic that may be most significant to voters is Dedication. A Board of Education representative must be dedicated and fully engaged in initiatives related to public education. School board service involves much more than attendance at board meetings. In my 16 years on the Board, I have attended CABE (CT Association of Boards of Education) workshops, seminars and conventions because I believed my participation would help me make informed decisions that would be in the best interest of the people in our District.
In addition to serving on many school board committees, I worked with Dr. Hedwall and the High School Business Department to obtain a United Way $15,000 grant for a School-to-Career store initiative. Although my efforts were recognized by the CT Business Education Association with a Certificate of Appreciation for outstanding dedication and contribution to Business Education, much of what a board member does is not acknowledged.
I believe the most effective school board members are those who are willing and able to spend the time necessary for a dedicated commitment to the inherent responsibilities.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge facing Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools in the next four years?
The biggest challenge facing Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools in the next four years is likely to be the coordination of student enrollment, budget and curriculum without sacrificing the quality of education and professional development.
Declining enrollments have the potential to seriously impact our ability to continue providing the type of quality education that residents and students in our District have come to expect. It is our responsibility to develop operating budgets that make sense based on the size of our community and student population.
School board members will need to work with school administrators and the community to “think outside the box” in order to develop a strategic plan that will lead us into the next decade.
For example, I believe our ability to provide cutting edge, innovative programs, like 3-D imaging, can attract students from outside the district.
If you could achieve one objective — and only one — during your term on the Region 18 Board of Education, what would it be?
My primary objective, and the reason I am seeking re-election to the board for an additional two years, is to complete the commissioning of our new high school and make certain that long-term maintenance initiatives are in place.
It has been my honor to serve as Chairman of the High School Building Committee, a group of dedicated residents who volunteered their time and professional expertise to this important project. The High School boasts a common area with multi-use capability and features multiple energy-and cost-saving features. Our Building Committee was able to reduce the projected building project cost by $4.6 million while earning a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver designation for our high school – which we can now proudly state is one of the most modern and energy efficient schools in our state.
Although our official ribbon-cutting took place earlier this month, the commissioning of our new high school is not completed. As I have indicated, I am seeking re-election to the Board as an independent candidate in order to oversee the commissioning. I feel strongly that I have made a commitment to the students and residents in our towns that I would like to honor.