The Easton Board of Education elected Jon Stinson and Gretchen Goldstein to serve as its new chairman and secretary, respectively. Stinson replaces Jeff Parker, who served as chairman since 2013.

The Board of Education chairman typically serves a two-year term, and the position has historically alternated between Democrats and Republicans. But when Parker’s first term came to an end in 2015 there was consensus for him to continue for a second, then third, term. He is a Republican, but in looking back on his term, he said, “I don’t think you could pick out a Republican from a Democrat [on the board]; it was people who were looking for the best interest of our kids.”

Because the board had already started the budget process when the usual November election time rolled around, they agreed to postpone the election to June. Stinson, who was new to the board but had expressed his interest in running for chairman, worked closely with Parker leading up to the election.

“I appreciate it immensely,” Stinson said at the June 16 joint Board of Education meeting with Easton and Redding. “Thank you for your mentorship.” During the June 9 Easton Board of Education meeting, Stinson also thanked Parker for everything he had done for Easton.

Several residents and board members at the June 9 meeting echoed Stinson’s thanks to Parker for his service. One person recalled that Parker visited bus stops around town in the fall to ensure a smooth opening to the school year.

Despite the budget process being interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Finance approved the 2020-21 budget June 2 as authorized by the Board of Selectmen, in accordance with Protection of Public Health and Safety during COVID-19 Pandemic and Response – Municipal Budget Adoption, Common-Interest Community Meetings. It includes funding for a new social worker to join Easton and Redding schools’ mental health team and a program called Junior Bridges for students with special emotional needs.

The board has not yet determined whether it will change the election cycle permanently to occur in June rather than November. The change would allow Stinson to serve two full years, and move the election to occur after the annual budget process concludes. Parker will continue to serve on the board as a member until 2023, but he was ready to step down as chairperson.

“Eighty months is a long time,” Parker said. “You’re only allowed to have so much fun.”

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By krwendt