Mark Hughes has announced that he will not seek re-election to the Meriden Board of Education, after serving for 12 years as its president. He was first elected to the board in 2003.
Hughes — a lifelong Meriden resident who graduated from Platt High School in 1987 and has proudly described himself as a product of the city’s public school system — has earned recognition as a long-term public servant who has been closely involved in a number of major events in the life of the school system.
In a letter to the Democratic Town Committee, Hughes wrote of his “passion for making a difference in the lives of children.” But “while that passion still remains, it has become time to realize it through other avenues."
Although his appointment in 2007, replacing Frank Kogut, was contentious, Democratic Town Chairwoman Mildred Torres-Ferguson praised Hughes for his leadership and ability to build consensus on the board. School Superintendent Mark Benigni said part of his legacy will also be the school system’s digital transformation.
As president, Hughes oversaw changes including the establishment of standing board committees, the introduction of all-day kindergarten, a universal free breakfast program (which had faced opposition), the redesigning of special education, the renovation of the high schools, and a partnership with Middlesex Community College.
Hughes was also a strong supporter of resource officers in the schools, leading him to write last year, in a letter to the City Council, the mayor, the city manager and the police chief, that the elimination of three SROs during a budget crisis was “completely unacceptable and does not recognize the time in which we are currently living.”
Just as the selection of Hughes to lead the board marked a major change in 2007, the end of the Hughes era also looks to be a pivotal time for the school system, with both Hughes and Pamela Bahre choosing not to run for re-election, following the resignation of Donald Green and the death of John Lineen earlier this year.
Board members will elect a new board president following this year's election.
During his tenure, Hughes wrote, board members “have transformed the way education is viewed and delivered; not only as a community, but with statewide, national, and even worldwide recognition.”
“I have never been more proud to be a small part of something so big in my life,” he wrote.
Meriden should also be proud, of Hughes and his service.