May 24, 2022

Essex Democrat Chris Riley Picked as New Chair of Region 4 Board of Education

REGION 4— Chris Riley, an Essex Democrat, was picked Thursday as the new chairman of the Region 4 Board of education. Riley succeeds Linda Hall, a Deep River Democrat who has held the key leadership position since 2009.

Only five of the nine elected board members from Chester, Deep River, and Essex were present for the vote on electing officers Thursday evening. Riley, who had been serving as vice-chairman, was supported by the other members present, including Jennifer Clark of Essex, Laurie Tomlinson of Deep River, Ann Monaghan of Chester, and newly elected member Leigh Rankin of Essex. Absent were members Duane Gates of Deep River, Elaine Fitzgibbons and Mario Gioco of Chester, and newly elected member Jane Cavavaugh of Deep River. Monaghan, who was first elected at a December 2011 Chester town meeting to fill a vacancy term, was picked for vice-chairman, with Clark named as board secretary and Gioco continuing in the treasurer position.

Riley, who works as director of media relations for Citizens Bank, was elected to fill a vacancy in 2009, and re-elected with support from both political parties for a full six-year term in 2001. He currently has two children attending Essex Elementary School. Riley, in brief remarks after the vote, said he would do his best “to listen and learn,” from other board members and school staff while serving as chairman. “We have a wonderful school system and if we continue to work together we can make it go forward,” he said.

In other business, the board approved a new four-year labor contract for secretaries and school nurses at Valley Regional High School and John Winthrop Middle School. The eight secretaries and two nurses are represented by Local 1303-419 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. The four-year contract, running from July 1 to June 30,2017,provides a total 9.25 percent pay increase over the four years, including increases of 3.1 percent in the current year, 2 percent in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, and 2.25 percent in the final year.

The contract includes a change in retirement plans for employees hired after July 1. New employees will be offered a 403(b) deferred compensation plan, where the school district will match employees up to five percent of base pay. Current employees will be allowed to remain in the Connecticut Municipal Employees Retirement Fund. The agreement also includes gradual increases in co-pays for employee health insurance.