The Tewksbury School Committee chose Krissy M. Polimeno as its new chairperson for the upcoming year by a 4-1 vote Wednesday evening.
Polimeno, who just completed her first year on the committee after being elected in April 2010, replaces Michael Kelley as the board's chairperson. Kelley did not seek re-election this spring.
Polimeno was nominated by committee member Joseph Russell. Committee member Dennis Francis was also nominated for the chairperson's position, by committee member Jayne Miller, but there was no second.
Francis was the only dissenting voter in the 4-1 vote to elect Polimeno.
The committee also welcomed its newest member, Brian Dick, who ran unopposed for the seat vacated by Kelley.
Polimeno called it "an honor and a privilege" to be elected to chair a committee comprised of "five great people," but recognized that the road ahead is full of challenges.
"The budget is always your biggest challenge, it really is," Polimeno said. "It's hard, in these difficult economic times. You really have to make fiscally responsible decisions and they're not always popular decisions. But one thing I have to say about this board is that they're willing to make difficult decisions."
Polimeno, who is the mother of three children enrolled in Tewksbury's elementary schools, was instrumental in the grassroots movement that gave rise to the approval of a $51 million new high school scheduled to be completed in September 2012. Polimeno hopes the town can stay focused on improvements to the school system such as the new high school.
"We do so many wonderful things in this town. It's about highlighting those wonderful things," she said.
Dick agreed that the town is about to enter a new era with the completion of the new high school, and echoed Polimeno's sentiments that Tewksbury public school students have plenty to look forward to.
"I just think we're moving in a real positive direction," said Dick, whose father Edward served four three-year terms on the school committee. " I know the pie is small financially, but we just have to focus on all the great things we have, starting with our teachers."
Dick, who has two children at the high school and one at the Wynn Middle School, hopes to help restore the reputation of Tewksbury's public schools, as compared to area private schools.
"The challenge is to make our school system the best around," he said. "I look forward to the day when people look elsewhere (for private school educations), but when they get out there they say 'you know what, I've got a pretty good thing going on at home, so I want to stay here and be part of that.'"