NORWALK, Conn. – Accountability, communication, fiscal responsibility – these were the topics covered by 10 Norwalk Board of Education candidates Monday night.
The four Republicans, four Democrats and two Norwalk Community Values independents faces about 40 people in City Hall for a League of Women Voters forum. The league also had them write out answers to questions; the resultant voter guide is attached below.
Some highlights from the candidates speeches, in the order in which they spoke:
John Bazzano, Republican
“I must say I attended the board of education meeting a few years back I was disappointed. I saw disarray … Today I see a board that is righting that ship. We have taken on a lot of water but the Republican led majority of this board have not only bailed out that water but have set a course for across the board success. Make no mistake I am going to be a part of that.”
Heidi Keyes, Democratic incumbent
“I consider myself to be a good listener, a reasonable voice on the board… It’s important to create a school system that is challenging for all students. One that creates a learning environment that fosters excellence, and engages our students to have a passion for learning. That should be lifelong. We need to focus in on narrowing the achievement gap so that all of our children can move onto college or some form of higher education.”
Steve Colarossi, an incumbent Republican running as a Norwalk Community Values candidate
“For the past four years I’ve felt that politics have gotten in the way of some of the important decisions that have had to be made. The goal shouldn’t be a bi-partisan Board of Ed, the goal must be a non-partisan Board of Ed.”
Sherelle Harris, Democrat
“My goal is to embrace Norwalk’s demographics to educate all students equally, to create a culture of inclusiveness and to close the achievement gap. … It is my hope that the Board of Ed will focus strictly on education and putting children first. I don’t want to be a part of a system that has what we recently witnessed in Washington DC. Where personalities or just people are concerned about their own agendas, more so than their own children.
Lauren Rosato, Republican
“I will work to fully open the communication channel in the district and community, to break down the fiefdoms that have been documented over and over in the CREC and Cambridge reports, to improve school safety and to disarm a handful of gatekeepers who hold information in close and use it to bully adults and parents in Norwalk schools. … If we open the gates to information we will see improved collaboration, we will bring transparency, we’ll see student achievement improve, we’ll even close the student achievement gap.”
Sue Haynie, incumbent Republican
“I was a strong supporter of our last reform minded superintendent, Susan Marks, and I will be just as strong a supporter of Dr. Rivera. … We are lucky to hire such a dynamic and visionary leader. The parents are excited, the community is excited, our public partners and outside funders are excited. We need Dr, Rivera to stay and thrive…We need to be resourceful, and find new ways of doing things. Norwalk Public Schools is a diamond in the rough. We have the raw material to be great. Let’s get there.”
Shirley Mosby, Democrat
“I am a strong advocate for open communication, transparency and accountability. My passion for children, parental involvement and community engagement has given me unique insight into a diverse community. … I have always advocated for parents to take a lead role in their children’s education. I believe everyone has a voice and it should be heard.”
Andres Roman, Norwalk Community Values candidate
I’m a probation officer. I deal with conflict on a daily basis. I know how to bring compromise to the table, to bring different teams, different organizations, different people to the table, talk, deliberate and compromise. We can’t draw a line in the sand and expect one side to give and the other side not to give. Because ultimately who pays are our students, our children, our taxpayers. If you want a politician please do not vote for me come Nov. 5.
Haroldo Williams, Democrat
“I believe I bring a different perspective to the board. I also have a very strong corporate experience. I hear everyone speaking about a the budgeting process but the flaw that we have is we are working on a budget without a plan. Before we can even get to the budget the Board of Education needs to start developing clear goals and objectives, measurable goals and objectives, and develop a strategy and then use that to develop a budget.”
Artie Kassimis, incumbent Republican
“We have come a long way from two years ago, we were told we had a $4 million deficit. We worked to close the gap by implementing the recommendations of a financial audit, hiring a CFO in addition to a great COO. This led to the implementation of detailed monthly reports and the careful tracking of expenses and cost controls. At the end of the first fiscal year of implementation of these improvements we went from a $4 million deficit to a $1.6 million surplus. If re-elected I will continue to support these recommendations and keep our financial house in order.”