Bedula is replacing Hazel Hobbs, who resigned as chairman after one year in the position; Hobbs will remain on the board.
Bedula has spent the last three years serving on the board's budget committee. After leaving her position in the private sector to raise her children, she's held volunteer positions in New Canaan, including "coaching every conceivable sport for all three of my children," to being a member of parent-teacher organizations, the youth commission, and CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team, which was extremely active in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Bedula said she's concerned about the school budget, as well as preparing New Canaan students to become globally competitive.
"Our greatest challenge is meeting the needs and interests of every student in our school system, while being fiscally responsible," she said in an interview Tuesday.
More specifically, Bedula sees macro and micro challenges on the horizon for the Board of Education. She mentioned the increasingly global nature of competition for students and upcoming capital projects, such as a new auditorium for Saxe Middle School.
"We've always gauged ourselves on national benchmarks," she said. "We have to look at international benchmarks, because when kids go to college now, they're competing against kids from the whole world. That's one of the reasons we've focused on world languages -- it's absolutely mandatory that our children be proficient, if not fluent, in at least one other language," she said.
Hobbs was effusive in her praise for Bedula. Hobbs said that when she took the position of chairman, there were four major challenges: hiring a new superintendent; redistricting the elementary schools; making a budget amid an excess grant debate and negotiating a new contract with the teachers' union. "In one year we have successfully accomplished all of these objectives," Hobbs said at the meeting. "Thank you to the entire board for making that possible."
Hobbs had the option of serving out the two-year term, but said she accomplished what she set forth to do. "We worked very hard on them and they were big accomplishments. This next year I see new challenges, and I think Alison can handle those well," she said.
Hobbs said that the position was heavily work-intensive, but that she enjoyed it.
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