CHESHIRE — Kathryn Fabiani is the new school board chairwoman following a recent vote. She replaces Cathy Hellreich who stepped down from the position but remains on the board.
Fabiani, a Democrat who was vice chairwoman, is in the second year of a four-year term. Four board members are up for election next year. Democrats hold a majority of the board.
Anne Harrigan, also a Democrat, replaces Fabiani as vice chairwoman.
Hellreich said she has family commitments that don’t allow her to devote enough time to a leadership position. She was pleased with Fabiani’s election.
“I think Kathryn is going to do a great job,” Hellreich said. “She’s run meetings before and she’s got a great head on her shoulders.”
Fabiani, 64, said the school district has to address aging buildings and choose a personalized learning system. She hopes to improve communication between the board and the public on both issues.
“My goal is to make sure that the board as a whole is moving in the same direction,” Fabiani said.
She’s an attorney with Brenner, Saltzman & Wallman, a New Haven law firm.
Parents had strong opposition to the Summit online learning platform, which was withdrawn earlier this year. A personalized learning task force is looking for an alternative that’s acceptable to the community.
“We did not necessarily communicate very well,” Fabiani said of the failed Summit effort. “That’s really going to be my focus.”
A plan to replace Dodd Middle School with a new grade 6 to 8 building near Cheshire Park, the first step in a district-wide renovation plan, failed to pass the Town Council.
She still supports a middle school that includes sixth-graders, which would allow kindergartners to move from Darcy School to their home schools. While Fabiani said the move would be better for students and the community, she acknowledge it’s “not going to be cheap to do.”
“We’re going to have to figure out how to get there,” she said. “There’s a limit to what we can expect the taxpayers to handle.”
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