Pinellas County School Board members on Tuesday unanimously elected Robin Wikle to be their new chairperson.
Wikle, 48, of Tarpon Springs was first elected to the seven-member board in 2008 and has served as vice chair for the past year. She is a former Pinellas County special education teacher and she holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Florida State University.
Over the past year, Wikle offered a critical voice in the ouster of former superintendent Julie Janssen. She was the first to say in June that if Janssen didn't improve her performance she would be ready to vote for terminating Janssen's contract. The board did just that in late August and Janssen left her post Sept. 2.
Wikle has three sons, all Pinellas County public school graduates, who helped inspire her interest in community and school issues.
She served as president of Tarpon Springs for Youth for three years and was president of the Ozona Elementary Parent Teacher Association and its School Advisory Committee. She's also involved with Rotary Club.
More recently, Wikle has become a passionate advocate for educating youth and parents about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
"It's a privilege and a responsibility to be a chairperson," Wikle said following the vote. "And I look forward to bringing guidance and organization to our board meetings."
Wikle said she already has spent some time hammering out three goals she'd like the board to adopt as it moves forward, but she said she'd prefer to share those with the rest of the board before doing so with the Times. "I think we always should be looking to better our way of work," she said.
Board members also elected former chairperson Carol Cook to serve as vice chairperson. They designated Janet Clark to be the board's legislative liaison to the Florida School Board Association. They also moved their regular board meeting times for the coming year a half hour later — to 10:30 a.m. for morning meetings and 5:30 p.m. for evening meetings.
Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at (727) 893-8707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.