The New London Board of Education changed its top officers on Thursday, choosing two newly elected members as president and vice president.
Five members of the seven-member board favored Margaret “Peg” Curtin for board president and Jason Catala for secretary. The board unanimously chose Delanna Muse as vice president.
Curtin thanked the New London Public Schools teachers for their work and also congratulated Donna Slate, principal of the Nathan Hale School, for the school’s recent recognition by the Connecticut Department of Education as a “school of distinction.” Curtin also said she hopes to meet with the City Council and Mayor Daryl Finizio monthly as well as the New London parents and the teachers’ union.
“I’m excited for the year to come,” said Curtin. “It’s going to be a hard year but we will do it. And I need people to tell us what we’re doing right, and tell us what we’re not doing so right, so we can perform properly.”
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Curtin—who formerly served 16 years on the City Council, including two terms as mayor and three as deputy mayor—was elected to the board last year. Muse was also elected last year. Both were on the Democratic slate.
Catala, a Republican, has served 10 years on the Board of Education and also served two years on the City Council. This will be his third year as secretary.
Catala nominated Curtin for the role, saying he had served with her on the City Council and was impressed by her work. Board member Sylvia Potter seconded the nomination
“Her dedication to the city of New London, and now to our children, is exceptional,” said Catala.
Bill Morse, a Democrat who has been on the board for five years and was elected board president last year, nominated himself for the role. Elizabeth Garcia-Gonzalez, who was chosen as vice president last year, seconded the motion. The final tally was five votes for Curtin and two for Morse.
Curtin nominated Catala for the secretary’s role and was seconded by board member Barbara Major. Garcia-Gonzalez nominated herself for the position and was seconded by Morse. The vote was 5-2 in favor of Catala.
Finizio served as a temporary chairman to oversee the board election. He thanked Morse for his service and wished Curtin luck, describing her as “not only a tireless advocate for our system but also someone who has the skills to navigate this system through a year of transition.”
Curtin, joking that she did not consider the outgoing present of a gavel to the president to be a good gift, presented Morse with a New London High School Whalers jacket. Morse said he thought the board has made significant progress in recent years in areas such as literacy and partnerships with the city and state.
“It’s been a growing process for me, and I think we’re on the other side of where we’ve wanted to be for the past 15 years,” said Morse.