Susan Duval, a longtime Hernando County principal who was reelected earlier this year to a second term on the School Board, is the School Board's new chairperson. The board named her to the position during an organizational meeting Tuesday, the first since elections changed the board's makeup.
Linda Prescott, who had a long career in community colleges and was elected to the board in 2016, will continue in her role as vice-chairperson.
"It was kind of a moment for me," Duval said. "I didn't quite have the words."
The positions don't give Duval or Prescott significantly more power than other members: The board's chairperson runs meetings and acts as a point of communication with other entities. But Duvals appointment does give the two positions to the board's two longtime educators.
"I think there's certainly that understanding of what it takes to be a teacher, to be a part of a large group of people working with a goal in mind to help students," Duval said.
Duval takes over the position from Mark Johnson, who lost this election cycle to newcomer Catherine "Kay" Hatch, a retired nurse.
Tuesday also marked the first board meeting for Hatch and for Jimmy Lodato, an advocate for teachers and students, who won election to a seat vacated by former board member Beth Narverud. Businessman Gus Guadagnino, who was elected in 2016, rounds out the board.
The board members' diverse backgrounds make it balanced and prepared for decisions ahead, Duval said.
"I think it brings a vitality to the board and the discussions," she said. "I believe the different perspectives are extremely important."