Photo: Madison Public Schools / Contributed Photo
MADISON — Citing family and professional obligations, one of Madison’s top education officials — who faced plenty of challenges during her nearly three-year tenure — has decided to leave her post as chairwoman of the Board of Education but will stay on as a board member.
“I will continue to be engaged but just step back a little bit so I can attend to family and work,” said Katie Stein, who took up her post as chairwoman in February 2018. “It just feels like it’s time to take a step back and let somebody else do it.”
As a child-life specialist with Yale New Haven Hospital and a mother of four, Stein said she considered stepping down when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
But then former Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice announced he was leaving the district.
Stein wanted to see Madison through the transition, she said — “The time didn’t feel right.”
With Craig Cooke slated to take up the post of schools chief next month, Stein said, she feels it’s now an appropriate time to make a transition, though she is “regretful” that she won’t be able to work with Cooke as closely as if she had remained board chairwoman.
JeanAnn Paddyfote has served as interim superintendent since Scarice left in July.
Stein last week submitted her letter of resignation, effective Dec. 2, to board Vice Chairman Galen Cawley — who will fill the post until a new chairpman is appointed, per the letter — and Secretary Emily Rosenthal, according to an email she shared with the Register.
“I am very grateful to have served in this capacity,” the letter said. “I have learned and grown professionally in this role. I am grateful to my mentors, family and colleagues for their support.”
Board bylaws dictate that new officers can be elected during the meeting following the date Stein’s resignation takes effect, she said.
Stein Monday highlighted her work bringing together members of the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance and the Board of Education to come up with a plan to address longstanding facilities issues at Madison schools as her biggest point of pride.
“I think there have been a lot of curveballs in my tenure — COVID being the largest one — but honestly the thing I found most fulfilling was assembling the tri-board,” she said. “It was really fun to really bring people together and, you know, kind of watch the think tank.”
While officials hoped to bring the facilities plan to a townwide referendum this year, it was postponed amid the economic uncertainties of the pandemic.
Stein hopes the town will get back to the issue when the time is right, she said.