After nine years on the Board of Education and five years as the chairman, John Boulton is not seeking re-election this November. His last meeting as a member will be on Oct. 27, a week before Election Day.

"I've served nine years, and I would like to do something different," he said. "I think it's important that we get fresh voices on the Board of Education, and nine years is a good time to leave."

Boulton has no plans to get involved in any other boards at the moment, he said.

"It's been a lot of fun. I've enjoyed it, there are great people on the board. I've really enjoyed the people I've served with, and it's satisfying to make a contribution to the town and the education of our children," Boulton said.

"I think the next two to three years are going to be very challenging times for the BOE and for the town because of the economy and the impact that the recession has had on the tax revenues of the federal state and local governments with the unrelenting demand for services," Boulton said. "It's gonna be a tough slug. There are very good people on the board, and I know they'll rise to the challenge."

Six of the nine members on the board are in mid-term and will not be participating in the election. There are three seats up for grabs in November and three candidates. George Reilly (D) and Elizabeth Hagerty Ross (R) are both seeking re-election and Amy Bell (R) is running for her first term.

This will be Reilly's third election. His main focuses will be on the budget and ways to fit special education into the budget, he said. He also hopes to increase contact between the BOE and the student and teacher populations.

"I have a special interest in learning more about how the students are feeling about the schools as well as the teachers. I feel somewhat remote from those constituencies and I look forward to learning more about their interests," he said. "I have been spearheading a plan to have high school students come to the board to talk with us about issues of interest to them. We hope to have that kind of meeting in the next month or two. I'm looking forward to that opportunity to learn more from the students."

Contact with students is also important to Amy Bell, who has two daughters attending Middlesex Middle School. Though this is her first attempt to join the BOE, she has been involved in a Parent-Teacher Organization, Girl Scouts and the Community Fund of Darien, she said.

"I think in the first year on any board, personally, my biggest focus will be becoming a contributing member of the board as quickly as possible. I've had some good relevant experience, but I think there's a big learning curve that comes with being the new person on any board. I hope to be able to contribute as quickly as possible. It also offers a different perspective with being someone who's new," Bell said.

One of her main goals is to help the school attract high-quality teachers as well as volunteers in the current economy.

"Many people come to Darien because of the quality of the schools. That was the case with our family, and so I think we have an excellent school system and the current board and historically the boards have worked very hard to ensure that outstanding quality," Bell said.

Hagerty-Ross also has two children in the Darien school system, which she cites as one of her main reasons she chose to run for a second term.

"It's important to me to strive to have the best educational system we can offer the children of Darien," she said.

"The two big hot buttons are budget and special education. That's the goal, to make sure that we give the best education to all our students in Darien, and also to make sure we do it in a very fiscally responsible way," Hagerty-Ross said. "That will be important this year, to continue to maintain our challenging curriculum, and stay on the cutting edge without overburdening our taxpayers."