Hazel Hobbs was elected chairman of the Board of Education Monday night after members met to choose officers.

Hobbs, who was nominated against Alison Bedula, received five votes. Bedula received three.

Kathy Smith was the only member nominated for vice chairman and was elected with seven votes while Mary Freiberg received seven votes for secretary.

During the election, the four candidates for the board discussed everything from finding Superintendent Dr. David Abbey's successor to new budgeting methods during a League of Women's Voters debate Oct. 23.

"The superintendent of schools has a lot of complex responsibilities. How we are going about is we're going to have a committee of various people from town bodies as well as the Board of Education as well as the public to be involved in the search, Bedula said. "It will be an extensive search, not necessarily a regional, but a national search."

Goodman listed several qualities the candidate must exhibit in order to keep New Canaan on track to exceed expectations.

"The first one would be a leadership person who can continue the ongoing innovation such as ours. We have a great school system. It hasn't always been that way, but it is that way right now," Goodman said.

Gress explained how the candidate should come from a similar district or area in terms of performance and sensibilities.

"I think that Dr. Abbey has been an extraordinary leader of this school system, and they're clearly going to be very difficult shoes to fills. But I think we need to find somebody that has experience in a district that's as high performing or tends to be as high performing as New Canaan," Gress said.

When discussions turned to the budget, Hazel Hobbs discussed creative ways to cut costs without dropping quality in the school system, which is approximately two thirds of the town's entire budget.

"Two small things we can do that might affect the budget are to think about looking at textbooks that are online instead of purchasing textbooks," Hobbs said. "Another would be to look at online courses. In trying to offer many languages, for example, we run into problems with even finding teachers who have sufficient background to do those. The thing that I would not want to see us cutting is what we're trying to do in science to make sure that we can increase our science budgets along the way to keep things going the way they have been."

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