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Groton school board fit to be tied, but finally picks a leader

By Deborah Straszheim

Publication: The Day

Published December 10. 2013 4:00AM   Updated December 11. 2013 12:12AM
Groton elects chairwoman after four votes, eight nominations

Groton - The newly elected Board of Education chose longtime board member Rita Volkmann to serve as its chairwoman Monday, after four tie votes, eight nominations and a caucus.

Town Clerk Betsy Moukawsher administered the oath of office, then had to keep track of who was nominating who.

The nine-member board has three new faces: Democrats Mary Kelly and Joey Schick and Republican Andrea Ackerman. Democrat Kirsten Hoyt, the former board chairwoman, was re-elected.

Democrats Volkmann, Beth Gianacoplos, Patricia Doyle, and Kim Shepardson Watson, and Republican Shelley Gardner were not up for re-election.

Volkmann had sometimes been in the minority on issues with the previous board but had consistent support from two of the three newcomers Monday.

Kelly nominated Volkmann first, saying: "The voters of the town of Groton, through the election results, made it quite apparent that they want changes made."

But her motion failed 4-4. Watson was absent from the meeting attending a conference, creating the possibility of a tie vote.

Then Doyle nominated Hoyt. Again, the vote failed 4-4.

Next, Gianacoplos nominated Watson, who was absent. Same result. Then Gardner nominated Schick. Again, 4-4.

At one point, Moukawsher stopped to explain procedure.

"Hold on here," she said.

So Gardner nominated Ackerman. Then Schick nominated Gianacoplos. She declined the nomination.

Finally, Kelly again nominated Volkmann, and Doyle nominated Hoyt.

Then the Democrats called a caucus. They returned to elect Volkmann 5-0. Volkmann, Gianacoplos, Doyle, Kelly and Schick voted in favor. The others did not vote.

Kelly said Volkmann, a former teacher and longtime board member, is respected in the community and would help renew confidence and trust in the board.

"She knows that at the end of the day, the board's primary responsibility is to do what is right and what is best for the students," Kelly said.

d.straszheim@theday.com

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