BOE candidate backs superintendent, wants top-rate teachers

John Bazzano
John Bazzano

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?

JB: Wholeheartedly.

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.


5 responses to “BOE candidate backs superintendent, wants top-rate teachers”

  1. piberman

    Mr. Bazzaano may find it helpful to read the Arbitration Report, BOE briefs prepared by Attorney Tom Mooney, the brief prepared by the NFT attorney and background materials prepared by Dept. Finance Head Tom Hamilton. The primary employee responsibilities of the BOE are negotiating with the NFT and Administrator’s Union. Currently Norwalk’s public school teachers (NFT) are the 5th highest paid in the state and higher than in any other City in CT. Those lofty salaries were largely negotiated when the BOE was in Democratic control between 1997 and 2009. Mr. Bazzano’s financial background would be an especially useful resource on the BOE. Or on any other City Board or Commission.

  2. EveT

    Could we have an explanation of what the term “education reform” means before the candidate says whether or not he is in favor of it? “Reform” could mean just about anything other than the status quo.

  3. Autumn Breeze

    Its that time again.
    Election season.

    We should change election time to winters. Fall is too beautiful to be associated with politics.

    Jack, like many of us, well, sometimes what we are trying to illustate, through words, on the cuff, sometimes just doesn’t come out right, on the spot. Or snippets are remembered that paint something entierly different than what was meant.

    Jack probably meant to say that he “supported School Resource Officers on school property during school hours, as needed by each individual building adminstrator and at the district super’s discretion as well as at designated school actvities that require an SRO,” like most responsible aware informed adults concur.

    Jack also probaly did no get the time to elobotrate further that when time permits he will assist anyway he can the grant adminstrator and superintendent in searching for and securing possible funding resources, in grants and awards that the district may be eleigilbe for, to help defray the costs of the needed SRO’s postions and educational safety projects they promote.

    SRO’s play an important role and wear many different hats. They reach out to kids, establish a repore and trust and help teach conflict resolution, thats its ok to seek help from a responsible adult as well instilling in studnets the dangers of narcotics,alcohol,hazing,bullying and gangs.

    SRO’s also participate in teaching safe driving habits, even setting up courses for elementary and middle schools students, to navigate with traffic signs and lights operating bicycles and pedal cars. Teaching responsibilty as well as polishig decision making and awarness skills.

    SRO’s coloborating with the Fire Dept. raise awreness about the dangers of texting and using electronic devices while driving and why its critical to wear seat belts and not let friends consume alcohol and operate a vehicle.

    When a troubled student is stressed out an SRO steps in, deescalate’s and try’s to
    help the student find appropiate ways and resources to effectivley deal with the stressfull situations that the student
    may be struggling with.

    A schools building SRO is an important component of the entire education structure and has long term positive contributions to all students overall educational experince, not to mention the splinter of peace of mind us adults can hold onto in these difficult and dangerous times we now live under.

    Smart designs of buildngs with security a priority will undoubetdly be included in all future construction and upgrade projects.

    Use of glass and its placemets is an important factor going forward, obviously.

    Communications and proceedures are being reexamined and revised and updated by most everyone, everywhere not just selected districts.

    There is no need for gun turrents and body scans. SRO’s are, indeed, needed.

    One deignated building SRO may be fully trained and authorized to carry official communications equipment, concealed mace, tazer and yes, a concealable firearm but that is not armed guards with shotuns and automatic long arm weapons, wearing riot gear posted at the entryways, which, confident is not what Jack meant to
    leave as an impression, but some may get that impression even others, sadly, may use that impression for political advantage.

    Cut him some slack, Jack is a good guy and trys hard. Valuable attributes sorely needed most everywhere these days.

    As fot the anicipated “Jack can speak for himself” reponses;
    hell yeah he most certainly can and he often gets pummeled in the press, blogs and by co-council members when he trys.

    If Jack ever decides to change his affilation, he an catch the Acela to Hartford. Need more guys like Jack up there representing the little guy/gal who’s voices get drowned out in all the noise.

    Opps off topic, excuse us there JB.
    Just an important clarification
    needed to be stated.

    Thank you sir for stepping up to serve,
    even if you are,one of those really,
    really disliked JP banker guys.

    JB you need to give more than a word answer, sir. Your not testifying before a congessional hearing or a grand jury, not yet anyway, right?


    Ok. here is a one word follow up question:


    One word response’s do not give a voter
    any understanding of what your positions are and why. Avoiding a subject with one word response’s, when presented with a direct question from any perspective voter, constituent or any journalist,
    for lack of knowledge on the issue
    is not acceptable.

    If you dont know, say that and go find out.

    Summing up such a complex, expensive, labor and resources intensive undertaking as implementation of Common Core Standards with
    “hey its good”, really does make your excutive experince shine real bright.
    Ya know?

    It may be good, indeed, if it wasn’t would we be doing it? And no, its not just for a larger slice of the pie.

    When your running for the board or any office for that matter, tell us why you believe its good, what are the targeted benefits and projected costs?
    Tell us why you support IT
    intergration and upgrades and why.
    Ya know?

    Real world, 2+2 doesn’t always equal the assumed sum but your a JP guy, you know
    that already, right?

    Again, thank you for standing up JB,
    regardless that your
    a JP (Just Profit)
    card carrying member.
    Good luck to you sir.

  4. feelingpositive

    What a breath of fresh air! JB, you bring a refreshing, positive outlook to the table. Norwalk is lucky to have a person of your background, both business and personal, running for a spot on the BOE! Best of luck!

  5. thetruth

    It’s amazing that all eight BOE candidates embrace the Common Core, which was written by a trade group that had no teacher or childhood development expert present. In addition, the Core (CCSS) was pushed through to States in 2009 as a stipulation to receive federal funding. So, in other words, these candidates promote Standards that are not researched based, invalid, developmentally inappropriate (especially primary age students), and were approved in an undemocratic fashion- it only required the approval of the Governor and State Ed Commissioner. You have to wonder the motives behind the corporate “reformers” that pushed CCSS through without any public hearing. Sounds like all BOE candidates need an education. I urge fellow Norwalkers to register your disgust regarding the failure of these candidates to do their due diligence and write in Stop CCSS on Nov. 4!

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