Roger Rawlins Cover Sheet:
File #:#46, cycle 2
Place of Interview:His office, Porter Street
Date:October 7, 2016
Summary of talk: family background, his business, Zoning Board of Appeals, Sewer Commission, SCS Board of Education, and Recreation Commission.
Roger Rawlins Interview:
This is file #46, cycle 2. This is jean McMillen. Today’s date is October 7, 2016. This morning I am interviewing Roger Rawlins who has been on several boards and the Salisbury Central Board of Education. First we’ll start with the genealogical information.
JM: What is your name?
RR: My name is roger Rawlings.
JM: When were you born?
RR: Feb. 3, 1959.
RR: Pomona, California
JM: Your parents’ names?
RR: Richard and Renetta
JM: Do you have siblings?
RR: I have a sister whose name is Rosalind.
JM: Your educational background after high school?
RR: I went to UCLA and graduated from the University of California at Irvine.
JM: What was your degree?
JM: How did you come to the area?
RR: I met Christie my wife in Newport Beach. She was moving back here so I followed her back.
JM: You mentioned something about her grandparents.
RR: Her grandfather was the English Master at Hotchkiss. I think he retired in 1972 or 73.
JM: His name was?
RR: Richard Gurney and her grandmother was Margaret. They lived on the Hotchkiss campus. I think he started in the 1940’s. Then they moved to 14 Library Street, Salisbury, which is where we moved. 14 Library Street is right across from the library parking lot. The white house is where we lived when we were first married.
JM: What is the name of your business?
RR: Resource Evaluation Group
JM: What is it that you do?
RR: I appraise real estate.
JM: Who would your clients be?
RR: Banks, attorneys mostly
JM: How long have you been doing this?
RR: 1982 34 years
JM: That is a good long time.
RR: No wonder I am tired.
JM: You said to me that when you came to town, you wanted to get involved with the community. You were on several boards. These may not be in the order that you were on them, but I am going to ask you first about the Zoning Board of Appeals. Do you remember when you went on that one?
RR: I think it was early. I was appointed as an alternate in 1994. I think if you raise your hand and say that you are willing to do something, they find you.
JM: Oh they find you.
JM: Oh yes
RR: I was appointed as alternate and then that led to a regular position.
JM: I am assuming that because of your background with appraising real estate that this is why you were on that board.
JM: What is its purpose?
RR: When property owners need to appeal the zoning ordinances in town they go to the Zoning Board of Appeals. The board is required to find a hardship for that property owner. Therefore we can override the zoning ordinance if we find a hardship.
JM: A hardship cannot be self- inflicted or financial?
RR: That is true. It has to be something to do with the property.
.M: Which came next the Recreation Commission or the Sewer Commission?
RR: The Sewer. The Salisbury Water Pollution control authority.
JM: Do you remember about what year you were on that?
RR: Probably 1995 and I was on that for a long time. I finally resigned in 2012. I was chairman of that too.
JM: What do they do?
RR: They basically control all of the sewer lines in town; manage the water pollution control facility.
JM: Is that the same as the Waste Water Department?
JM: So that would be John Whalen.
RR: That’s John Whalen.
JM: Who has had it for 44 years.
RR: Something like that.
JM: Who got it from his uncle.
RR: Yep, exactly. We are the board that oversees the budget for him. There are probably 5 or 7 members. Actually it is a separate line item; it is not part of the town budget. It is not included in the mill rate. The only people who pay for it are the people that are on it, so the town does not pay for it.
JM: Do you have a term of office?
RR: I think it is a 4 year term.
JM: Recreational Commission, when did you get on that one?
RR: Oh after I was on the Board of Education. The BOE has an automatic place for a member the Recreation Commission.
JM: Then I’ll come back and do the Recreation Commission after the board. You got on the Boards of Education in about 2000?
RR: Either 2000 or 2002, 2002 it must have been.
JM: Why did you run? Did you have children in the system?
RR: Yes, I have had three children who attended Salisbury Central School. I got on the board when my oldest son was in first grade. He graduated from 8th grade in 2008. I was on the board until 20012.
JM: As a regular member, what duties did you have?
RR: I was Vice Chairman and then I was Chairman for 8 years.
JM: Were you on any special committees?
RR: Buildings and grounds, budget. I will admit that as chairman I was pretty much involved with that.
JM: When did you become chairman?
RR: 2004 I had been on the boards for 2 years.
JM: Is it difficult to be chairman of the BOE? Do you get a lot of input from parents and faculty?
RR: I did not find it difficult at all. I enjoyed it.
JM: It was not contentious?
RR: There were a couple of contentious incidents; I never found it horrific. I must admit I don’t take to that well so I was able to control the meetings. If it got to be contentious, I shut it down.
JM: Any special training for this?
RR: No I think that there is CABE and there are a couple of things like the Freedom of Information Act. No there is really not any training and I think that is one thing the state could probably do a little better.
JM: I am surprised because so many of the people that I have interviewed like the fire department, the town clerk, and Assessor; they have regulations and training up the wazoo.
RR: Right but the board of education is a volunteer position; they can’t really mandate you to go to a class. They hope you do: they offer training but you do not have to.
JM: What is the time commitment?
RR: As chairman it was probably 10 to 12 hours a week. It was great.
JM: You said that the principals that you worked with, there was a gentleman before Paul Sales, and then there was Chris Butwell whom you mentored.
RR: Yes, I hope so. I tried to.
JM: I am sure you did. What is the purpose of BOE?
RR: Oversee the budget; oversee the policies and procedures for the school. Our job is not to be a hands-on educators.
JM: That is the job of the principal and the faculty.
RR: Exactly right! It drives me crazy if boards try to get involved with the day-to-day operation. It is not what we are supposed to do.
JM: You do budgets: you do building issues, how about curriculum direction? Do you do anything with that?
RR: No really that is the superintendent’s job. We have to come in and get it approved. The superintendent brings us a new math curriculum; we are going to say yes or no, but we are not going to do more.
JM: Bus contracts are a lot of fun!
RR: Yeah and the annual employment contracts too.
JM: Do you approve staffing?
RR: No although the principal brings us the staffing and says we have hired a new teacher and then we have to say yes. The board does that because they are now an employee of the board. The payroll comes from the board so we have to approve the employees.
JM: So you get to sign the checks.
RR: there are two signatures the board chair and then the treasurer of the town.
JM: You have some special projects and one was putting on a new roof.
RR: Yes, one was putting on the new roof.
JM: Tell me about the solar panels.
RR: We didn’t go with solar for the school because we had just put on a new roof: I did not want to void the contract.
JM: You also lengthened the school day.
RR: We did
JM: The new hours for the school day are?
RR: We start earlier at 8:30 and go until 3:15. Thant was a coup; I liked that. It was the best thing we have done. That was good for the kids.
JM: How about the sports fields?
RR: We tried to get those fixed but we ran out of money.
JM: When we talked before there were two things that you were very proud of. Tell me about roger Rawlings Award.
RR: I think the board did me n honor. I did not have anything to do with it. I think it was wonderful that the board had named a community award for the 8th grade class for me. A boy and a girl are given the award and they are kids that have participated in philanthropy throughout their time as Salisbury Central School. The board donates I think $100 or $50 to the student and then the kid gives that to the charity of their choice.
JM: When you say philanthropic is that the same as community service?
RR: I view it as the same thing, but probably not. I view philanthropy as giving money and community service as giving time. I think these kids are giving a lot of their time.
JM: The other things that you mentioned particularly related to the budget.
RR: Another thing too was that we got Spanish as a full time class; it is no longer a special. It is an actual class for the middle school students.
I also tweaked the budget spreadsheet. When you can actually put a number, it will then fill in the budget. Thus you can see where you are going so you can analyze the budget much more easily than before. That was a fun project, if you like that kind of thing. When I sit at my desk that is what I like to do, play with spreadsheets.
JM: Now the Recreation commission; when did you go on that board?
RR: oh, 2008 I think that we had always had somebody on the Commission from the board. It finally got to the point where nobody wanted to do it, so I said that I would. It was fine. The Recreation commission is an easy one.
JM: How many are on that?
RR: 7 or 5? Yeah you meet once a month. You talk about baseball or soccer. Our biggest thing when I was on it was we got out of the Little League. The Salisbury Recreation Commission removed itself from Little League, National Little League. That was somewhat controversial.
JM: Gee we have been a big baseball thing for a long time.
RR: We still are, but we just do not have a Little League division. If the kid wants to play with Little League, he has to go to New York. It has changed again but that was our big thing when I was there.
JM: Any other boards that I have missed?
RR: Not in town.
JM: Is there anything else you would like to add before we close this interview?
RR: I don’t think so.
JM; Thank you very much.
RR: Thank you very much.
Property of the Oral History Project: The Salisbury Association at the Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury, Ct. 06068