The Board of Education on Monday night voted unanimously to elect Katrina Parkhill as its new chair.
A Republican elected to the Board two years ago, Parkhill worked for a decade in management consulting and the healthcare industry after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, has three kids in New Canaan Public Schools and has served on the boards of numerous community organizations since moving here nearly 14 years ago, including First Presbyterian Nursery School, Newcomers Club of New Canaan, New Canaan Winter Club and West School PTC (as president).
Since winning election to the Board of Ed, Parkhill has been an “an outstanding member,” serving on its Governance and Communications Committees, according to Brendan Hayes, who just finished his own one-year term as chair.
“She has been an active member of the Board, an active member of the community” Hayes said during the Board’s meeting in the Wagner Room at New Canaan High School “She has great connectivity with many parents in town and, I think, will be a great leader for our Board.”
In addition to Hayes and Parkhill, Board members Sheri West, Penny Rashin, Dionna Carlson, Jennifer Richardson, Julie Mackle Reeves and Bob Naughton were in attendance. Carl Gardiner was absent.
Also unanimously elected as officers were Hayes, vice chair, and Richardson, secretary.
The brief organizational meeting was overseen by First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. He said, “There has been lot of talk about the town and the Board of Education and school district working closer together. I would urge this Board to seriously look at working with the town to try to find savings and ways to have synergy between the two.”
In nominating Hayes for vice chair, Rashin said her fellow Democrat has done “a fantastic job.”
“He advocated for the Board of Education budget, pointing out its efficiencies and the town’s return on its investment,” she said. “He shepherded the Board through the town approval process and was able to do that without any additional cuts to that budget, which would have diminished the education that New Canaan Public Schools provided students. And he has built strong relationships with town officials. He also moved forward the board’s important work on the school start times and student wellness, and helped craft a process that has fleshed out the pros and cons of the various options and the complications in this process.”
Hayes succeeds Carlson in the vice chair role.
West nominated Richardson, a Republican, saying the mother of four kids who have either graduated or continue to go through the public schools here is “highly engaged in our school system at all levels.” Those include the PTC, Prom Committee and Color Run. Richardson also was an inaugural member of the Board’s Communications Committee, working to reformat the district website and improve communications with parents, West said.
“She is a tremendous asset to our Board and in this role,” West said.
Richardson, the high vote-getter among all Board of Ed candidates two years ago, has served as secretary since 2015.
The meeting marked the first for new Board of Ed member Naughton. Fellow Republicans Gardiner and Mackle Reeves also were elected to the school board this month, while Hayes earned re-election.