PORTLAND – School Committee Chairman Peter Eglinton announced Thursday that he won’t seek election this fall for a second three-year term.

He said he plans to refocus on his career as an environmental consultant and on his family, including two children who attend Portland schools. He plans to stay active in school issues and volunteer in his kids’ classrooms — something he said he hasn’t had time to do for a few years.

Eglinton was elected to the District 3 seat in 2007, just as the school district started reeling from a $2 million budget deficit that led its superintendent and finance director to resign.

He led the finance subcommittee during his first year and is serving his second year as committee chairman.

Under his leadership, the committee forged new practices and policies that erased the deficit and established a cooperative relationship with City Hall. It also adopted a five-year budget model to ensure future financial stability, and hired a new superintendent who is charged with reorganizing the district.

“I have an appreciation for how bad things can get and an understanding of the calm, constructive, cooperative and honest approach that’s needed to turn things around,” Eglinton said. “It has been some of the most rewarding work I’ve done in my life.”

Sarah Thompson, the senior School Committee member, said Eglinton’s departure in December will be a great loss.

“He has brought us through some tough times,” Thompson said. “He has a great sense of humor and a calm demeanor that really helped us stay on track.”

Thompson said the committee also benefited from Eglinton’s big-picture financial experience, which he gained while working for the White House Office of Management and Budget from 1999 to 2001.

Thompson said she would like to serve as chairman next year and has been gathering support from committee members.

Now in her second term on the committee, Thompson led the search that ended with the hiring of Superintendent Jim Morse. She’s also the chair of a new subcommittee that has started overhauling the district’s curriculum guidelines, which hadn’t been reviewed in 20 years.

“I think I’m ready,” Thompson said. “It will be my fifth year on the committee. I’ve served in multiple leadership roles and helped to put the committee on its present path. The role of the chair will be to keep us on that path.”

At-large committee members Kate Snyder and Jaimey Caron also are up for re-election this fall, and have taken out nomination papers.

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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