NORWALK, Conn. – John Bazzano is running on the Republican ticket for a seat on the Norwalk Board of Education. The veteran banker, a senior client executive with J.P. Morgan, was the first to respond to questions submitted by email to all 10 candidates for the BOE. We will post the responses as they come in.
NancyOnNorwalk: Why are you running for the Board of Ed? What are your qualifications?
JB: I am running for the Board Of Ed for the following reasons:
• Number one goal is to make the City of Norwalk’s school system a recognized leader in providing the best environment and tools for the success of all our students.
• I have always had a passion for helping in the “education arena.” This is demonstrated by my volunteer work with Junior Achievement, becoming involved in Innovations for Learning (online tutoring) through my employer, being a Catechist in my local parish (St. Matthew) and finally, being an Adjunct Professor at NYU Graduate School for Real Estate Finance.
• I believe in giving back, whether that be financial or time. We all need to do our share to make sure the next generation is equipped with the necessary skill set to succeed in this competitive world.
• My work/life experience in finance, client management, and negotiations would add value to the Board and the community.
My qualifications are:
• MBA in Finance from Pace University.
• Over 25 years of Finance/Banking experience for major U.S. financial institutions.
• Being an educator myself, I have a good sense of the challenges teaching presents (Adjunct Professor at NYU, Jr. Achievement, etc.)
• Experience with the Norwalk Public Schools; two eldest daughters graduated(ing) from McMahon. Youngest daughter will enter McMahon in two years.
NoN: What are your plans if you get elected? What do you think needs to be addressed? Priorities?
JB: My plans and priorities are as follows:
• Firmly support our new superintendent. For a variety of reasons, Norwalk has experienced too high of a turnover in this position; this is unacceptable.
• Raise the bar and achievement of all students attending our public school system.
• Continue the Board’s recent great strides in financial management. Assist in providing financial discipline.
• School/student security. Keeping our kids, teachers, and staff safe.
Things that need to be addressed:
• Bullying: in all forms. The current BoE and Bob Kocienda (Senators Community Foundation leader) have done a great job in raising awareness, setting policy and having laws passed at the state level. But without implementation, all this great work is for naught. As such, I will feverishly work to make sure these policies and laws are implemented and enforced throughout the school system.
• Childhood obesity.
• Teen texting/talking on phone while driving.
NoN: A lot of people think the professional staff salaries are too high. Do you concur? If so, what can be done about that?
JB: First off, I believe that the City of Norwalk should employ top rate professionals and pay them what the market will bear. My wife’s grandmother would say, “Buy cheap, get cheap.” That doesn’t mean we should overpay, or not be prudent when hiring, but it does mean we should hire the best we can afford.
Second, the BoE’s role in hiring and salary matters are pretty much limited to the superintendent, deputy superintendent, CFO, etc. The remaining professional staff are union members and as such their salaries are set via and by negotiations with union officials.
NoN: Jack Chiaramonte said recently that he would be in favor of armed guards in the schools. What is your opinion on this topic?
JB: Since I do not know exactly what he said and what context it was said in, I can not opine on his statement. I will say that protecting our kids and school staff is of extreme importance and all options should be on the table and discussed. My understanding is that the mayor has improved safety by adding police staff to schools. This is a great first step. Whether it ends here or not is something that needs to be discussed/debated with the input of the school community (PTO’s, parents, etc.).
NoN: Do you support the transition to Common Core State Standards?
NoN: Are you in favor of education reform? What are your reasons for your opinion?
JB: I am in favor of pursuing and achieving excellence. One of my favorite quotes is from a personal hero, Vince Lombardi. Coach Lombardi once said, “… We will chase perfection, and we will chase it relentlessly, knowing all the while we can never attain it. But along the way, we shall catch excellence.” I think that says it all.
NoN: Is anyone in your family a teacher? Work for the schools?
JB: Not my immediate family and not in Norwalk.
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