Portsmouth School Committee Member Resigns Day After Election

A Republican member of the Portsmouth School Committee has stepped down, but says the election was not a factor.

Portsmouth School Committee member Jonathan H. Harris submitted his resignation on Wednesday morning, only a day after the General Election. 

However, Harris, vice chairman of the school board, says the election was not a factor in his decision. 

"The election outcome was not a factor at all," Harris wrote in an e-mail. "I had decided to resign three months ago once I reached the two-year mark of my service. Doing so after the election allows for an easy transition of another candidate to be appointed rather than be elected.

"Had I resigned prior to the election, I was advised that a special (costly) election would be required. This timing also allows a new person to come in at the same time with newly elected people so they have time to work together."

Portsmouth Patch attempted to call Harris by phone. A message on his phone stated the user was "not accepting calls at this time." 

Harris, a Republican, was elected in 2010 to serve on the board. He says his expanding business is a primary reason for resigning at this time. 

"My business is expanding and I have many demands at the office for my time leaving me little time to spend working on town government," Harris wrote. "My family also wants me home in the evenings and I am looking forward to that.

"I have no regrets, it was tough work. The school system’s financial situation has dramatically improved over the last two years. I wish the newly elected candidates well and I have offered to sit down with them and share what I know with them."

On Tuesday night, four new Democrats were elected to the school committee: Andrew Kelly, Emily Copeland, Terri-Denise Cortvriend and John Wojichowski. The electon of these new members creates a Democrat majority on the board. 

Distant Cousin November 15, 2012 at 10:08 PM
East side, look, there are 7 hrs in the school day and for most teachers there is some additional time before or after work several days each week. You can't really think that since they had a 1 hour exercise on Wednesday to ensure uniform grading that there is no time they put in during the rest of the school year grading actual papers. Yet, you can't resist saying something so silly. No one is that !@#$%ed. Assume it's only 2 hours per day in planning lectures; preparing tests, exercises, and other assignments; and in grading and other things. Many teachers chaperone dances and other events, and they write letters of recommendation and other things to help out students. Even if the total is only 1850 hours per year, which seems conservative, how many hours do think the average lawyer, doctor, or other professional works per year? Most of those other professionals get 1 month vacation, not the two weeks Shill used. Indeed, most doctors take Wednesday afternoons off. When I used to caddy, we called Wednesday, “doctor's day.” Some also take Friday afternoons, too, and they go on tax deductible conferences in vacation spots. Are you as outraged at their hours and remuneration as you are at teachers? If not, why not? By the way, you still haven't explained why teachers should contribute their time for Wednesday’s training without pay. Do you have a reason other than your old cliche? Oh, and I'll ask again, what do/did you do for a living?
Michelle S. November 16, 2012 at 12:19 AM
Wasn't this article about the resignation of Mr. Harris? Funny how we always find our way back to teacher bashing.
Town resident for many years November 18, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Teacher bashing and Union bashing.
Rick Kassen November 21, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Union members hide behind psuedo names, bash a former public official who negotiated good contracts with their powerful unions and they complain about teacher/ union bashing. I dont recall ever hearing a negative word about teachers from the man. You union members do a disservice to your co workers, students and to the whole town posting these hateful commens At least have the decency to identify who you are.
Major Tom November 21, 2012 at 02:33 AM
Distant Cousin: really? Teachers perform an important job and i respect that, but comparing their hours to a medical doctor is just ignorant. Most doctors work 50 to 60 hours per week, are on call thru the night, lives depend on their decisions 24/7. They cant get a medical degree from RI college but you can get a teachers degree at every level there and most public school teachers in RI did just that. There is a big difference in cost and admission from RIC to Yale, Harvard and Columbia dont you think?


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