Breaking News: Cunningham Resigns From School Committee

Belmont School Committee member Kevin Cunningham, known for his loquacious manner and attention to detail, is resigning from the committee effective when a replacement is found or by Nov. 15.

In a letter [see Cunningham’s statement below] to Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman, Cunningham said while he had hoped to complete his three-year term ending in April 2017, “I find that financial and family issues, long held in abeyance in favor of contributing to the schools, must now take priority.”

Cunningham and his wife, Lisa Gibalerio, are parents of three children in the Belmont schools.

Cunningham won re-election to the committee in April’s Town Election, receiving 3,501 votes as he and fellow incumbent Laurie Graham ran unopposed for the two open seats.

Cunningham won his seat when he topped the field of three with 2,101 votes as he and Graham beat out School Committee chair Ann Rittenburg for places on the committee. The year before, he finished a distant third with two seats available.

During his tenure on the committee, Cunningham directed most of his energy on budget and financial matters, work he won praise from colleagues and town officials for bringing an analytical, forward thinking approach to the school budget, using realistic, unemotional assumptions on revenue and spending.

He is also one of the architects of “One Town, One Budget,” a process Selectman Andy Rojas described at this year’s Town Meeting as creating a realistic budget “we all could support” through a collaborative effort between the school district and town government.

“I appreciate the movement of the School Department, and the Town generally, toward long-term financial planning, and I am so glad that all of us representing the public have worked together with respect and without rancor on the core issues of the district and town,” wrote Cunningham in his letter.

Cunningham also brought a natural inquisitive nature to the committee, which, at times, resulted in sometimes verbose “stream of consciousness” questioning that could approach Proustian lengths.

Yet each one of his questions brought to the fore important details to relative issues, from broad budgetary concepts to querying the need to send school trips overseas “when there’s just as much to see in Chicago.”

Cunningham’s replacement – to be selected by a joint committee of the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee – will fill the seat only until the Town Election in April 2015. Then the appointed replace, and any other registered voter can seek to fill the two-years remaining in Cunningham’s term.

With Cunningham’s resignation, three of the six seats on the committee will be open with incumbents Anne Lougee and Lisa Fiore expected to run.

Kevin Cunningham’s letter to Town Clerk Ellen Cushman dated Oct. 6. 

Dear Ellen:

I am writing today to formally resign from the elected position of School Committee Member, effective either when another qualified candidate is appointed jointly by the School Committee and Board of Selectmen, or by November 15, whichever comes first.

I am deeply grateful to my fellow citizens for having afforded me the opportunity to contribute to the Town of Belmont and our outstanding school system in this capacity for over three and a half years. It has been a privilege to work alongside so many people who are so skilled at – and devoted to – promoting excellent outcomes for all the students in town. I appreciate the movement of the School Department, and the Town generally, toward long-term financial planning, and I am so glad that all of us representing the public have worked together with respect and without rancor on the core issues of the district and town. I have been especially fortunate to serve along so many skilled School Committee members, current and past, and such highly qualified professionals throughout the school system.

I would truly prefer to continue to serve our town in my current capacity as School Committee member – I feel I still have much to offer, and serving feeds my soul. But I find that financial and family issues, long held in abeyance in favor of contributing to the schools, must now take priority.

And so I withdraw myself from my elected role. To the extent that I can still help the schools in a more limited way, I have informed the Chair of my availability.

Sincerely,

Kevin Cunningham

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