Bylaw suspended, Carlson remains school board chairperson
NEW CANAAN — In order to allow Dionna Carlson to continue to serve as chairperson, the school board first had to vote to suspend a board bylaw.
While electing new Board of Education officials Monday night, board member Tom Cronin proposed suspending the bylaw that limits the board chairperson to only serve two consecutive terms. The suspension would allow Carlson, who’s served as head of the board the past two years and was reelected to a second four-year term, to serve for a third year as chairperson while the board re-examined their term limitations.
Most board members agreed with the proposed suspension.
“I think, frankly, that two years is just not enough time and provides more time with continuity and leadership,” said board member Brendan Hayes. “It makes a lot of sense.”
Board member Sheri West said the motion would allow the board time to look at the bylaw to decide if having a limit for chairperson was the best practice. Other boards in town, she added, don’t have chairperson term limits, nor do the majority of school boards in surrounding towns.
“It’s a good idea to suspend so we can give this thoughtful review,” West said. “I also think it’d allow us to leverage our current chairperson’s expertise and relationships and also (be) better for the town (than) having a big turnover in leadership right now.”
The board all voted “yes” on the motion with the exception of Maria Naughton who voted against it, saying she felt the proposed suspension should have been on the agenda to alert people in town of the motion.
Afterwards, the entire board, including Naughton, proceeded to vote Carlson back in as board chairperson, citing her prior experience working in GE Capital as being of great help to the district, as was her experience as parent to two children who went through New Canaan schools (her daughter graduated last year and her son is a senior at New Canaan High School).
“As chair Carlson led board through several challenges including negotiating teacher and staff contracts,” said board member Hazel Hobbs who nominated Carlson. “Her follow-through on issues has led her to becoming highly respected.”
The board also nominated and unanimously elected Penny Rashin to serve as board vice chairperson, replacing Sheri West, and appointed Jennifer Richardson to serve once more as board secretary.
Rashin, West, Richardson and Katrina Parkhill were also sworn in for additional terms.