BOE veteran seeking re-election to ‘finish the job’

Republican Sue Haynie is running for re-election to the Board of Education.
Republican Sue Haynie is running for re-election to the Board of Education.

NORWALK, Conn. – Susan Haynie, a Republican Board of Education member running for re-election, has taken on plenty of challenges in her four years on the board, including chairing the Negotiations and Personnel Committee. Now, she says she wants to help Superintendent Manny Rivera realize his vision for the school system and help implement the Common Core Standards.

Haynie took some time to answer a set of questions posed to all BOE candidates by NancyOnNorwalk.com:

NoN: Why are you running for the BOE? What are your qualifications?

SH: I am running for the BOE in the hopes of finishing the job I set out to do. Norwalk schools are diamonds in the rough, but for most of my 17 years in this district, it seemed they lacked inspired leadership. With a strong and visionary Superintendent like Dr. Rivera, fully supported by the Board of Education, city leadership and Norwalk ACTS, I believe our students, staff and schools can be models of best practice for the nation.

I have been a member of the BOE for four years. During that fpur years, I have been the chairwoman of the BOE Negotiations Committee, a member of the BOE Curriculum Committee, and, this year, a participating member of the transition team for the Norwalk ACTS, STRIVE network. Prior to joining the BOE, I was the Norwalk PTO Council (PTOC) president and PTOC vice president, and I was also the director of NorwalkSEEKS, a non-profit focused on special education and reading disabilities, information and advocacy. Prior to having school-age children, I owned and managed two restaurants.

NoN: What are your plans if you get elected? What do you think needs to be addressed? Priorities?

SH: If I get re-elected, I plan on supporting the superintendent’s strategic plan and vision for the district. There is a lot of work to be done. A big priority is to continue preparing for the Common Core: providing high-quality, ongoing staff professional development, completing technology equipment/infrastructure improvements, piloting the CCSS (SBAC) assessments and deciding on a PK-5 Language Arts Curriculum aligned with CCSS. Another priority is early literacy, PreK-5, in terms of significantly increasing the number of students at goal or above. Increasing the availability of, scope of and ease of access to timely and full information regarding our district and our schools is a priority.

Continuing contract negotiations that are fair but firm, student focused and respectful to taxpayers is a priority.

NoN: A lot of people think the professional staff salaries are too high. Do you concur? If so, what can be done about that?

SH: The question simplifies a very complex issue. I support very aggressive salaries for top-flight talent. I support highly competitive salaries for strong, proven teachers and administrators. I believe some of our professional staff, even those very highly paid, are often underpaid given the quality of their work and the difficulty of their replacement. A great educator is a wonder to behold. However, under the current design, great talent and strong, proven work isn’t rewarded any more or less than average or lackluster work. Salaries are aligned contractually with “steps” and time, blanket increases. This adds a high level of security for adults but has questionable benefits for students and taxpayers. Barring a change of design by union leadership, SEED, the new teacher and administrator evaluation model, and great, embedded professional development where needed will help. The NFT salary and benefit re-opener as determined by the arbitration panel will help. Vigilant hiring processes in Human Resources will help.

NoN: Jack Chiramonte said recently that he would be in favor of armed guards in the schools. What is your opinion on this topic?

SH: Both the City of Norwalk and Norwalk Public schools are doing a fine job of addressing the issue of security in the aftermath of Sandy Hook. A coordinated and strategic review of all 19 schools is almost completed and is being jointly conducted by the Norwalk Police Department, Fire Department and Superintendent in conjunction with school Safety Committees. There are now six armed police resource officers assigned to the schools.

NoN: Do you support the transition to the Common Core State Standards?

SH: Yes, I do support the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The CCSS have been developed for English Language Arts and math as well as science in grades kindergarten through 12. The CCSS define what content and skills should be learned in a particular subject, at a particular grade, but the CCSS is not curriculum, it does not define how a subject should be taught. The CCSS is rigorous in its expectations of preparing students for the real world, for today’s world; the CCSS will allow for collaboration between the 45 member states in teaching and learning, textbooks and best practices. The CCSS assessments will provide both formative (frequent, progress monitoring) and summative (end of year measure of learning) results. Like the CMT and CAPT before them, the CCSS assessments will be comparable across districts throughout Connecticut, but, unlike the CMT and CAPT, the CCSS assessments will also be comparable across all CCSS adopting states. The assessments will give educators, parents and students accurate information about whether the student is on track to graduate from high school ready for college or the work force.

NoN: Are you in favor of education reform? What are your reasons and your opinions?

SH: Yes. Again, this is a simple question with a complex answer. Let me illustrate.

Fairfield County is made up of 24 towns. In Norwalk, during the 2010/11 school year, the average administrator’s salary was sixth at $151,542/year. The average teacher’s salary was fifth at $80,660/year. The average employee benefits cost (for all staff) was second at $3,115/per pupil. But, the average expenditures for instructional supplies per pupil were 23rd at $134/pupil. The average expenditures for instructional/media supplies per pupil were dead last, 24th.

During the 2010/11 school year, 39.6 percent of our 10th-graders were “at goal” or above in reading —that means that only 300 10th-graders out of 760 reached reading “goal” on the CAPT. This is not just about socioeconomics or ethnicity, as the breakdown is as follows: Asians 57.9 percent; Black/African American 15.8 percent; Hispanic 30.2 percent; white 60.9 percent; full price 50.5 percent; free & reduced lunch 19.3 percent.

I have little doubt that if public school students and parents, as well as community and taxpayers, had advocates as effective and targeted as did the unions who represents the adult staff, this disparity would disappear and the achievement gap would become a sliver.

NoN: Is anyone in your family a teacher? Work for the schools?

SH: No


22 responses to “BOE veteran seeking re-election to ‘finish the job’”

  1. Piberman

    Hands down Sue Haynie has been among the most productive, knowledgeable and hard working BOE members in modern Norwalk history.
    Despite vitriolic attacks from the NFT – see the monthly Vanguard publication – she has been a role model in working diligently towards rejuvenating our public school system. And had a major role in the recent Supt search. Sue Haynie merits a strong vote of confidence as a true “public servant” for Norwalk.

  2. LWitherspoon

    Ms. Haynie’s answer to the question of education reform won my vote. Taxpayers need someone like Sue Haynie to advocate for our interests with the same effectiveness that Teachers Union leadership fights for more pay and benefits.
    Of all Fairfield County towns, we are fifth in terms of spending on salaries and second in terms of spending on benefits!
    Yet we’re at or near the very bottom in terms of spending on instructional and media supplies.
    If memory serves, during the last budget crisis the teachers union advocated that families should pay for participating in sports and band, so that there would be enough money to fund teacher raises without cutting any positions. That’s outrageous, especially in light of the number of Norwalk students who receive free/reduced lunch.

  3. marjoriem

    Sue Haynie negotiated next year’s teaches’ salaries. They will break the BoE’s bank! Taxpayers beware! You will be paying much more in taxes due to her lack of knowledge on negotiations. Teachers are delighted with the big raises they will be getting.
    Sue Haynie has no background in education. She only possesses a high school diploma. Who wrote these answers for you, Sue? Why don’t you debate?
    Sue Haynie has caused a tremendous amount of anger among teachers because she wants the textbooks she has chosen for the elementary curriculum. The teachers chose a researched based, quality program, but Sue wants what she wants, not what the professionals want. She is dictating to the teachers!
    There has never been so much discontent and so much disagreement on the Board of Education. Sue Haynie changes minutes of meetings, forces her own agendas. This is not a candidate most people support.

  4. Piberman

    Rubbish above. NFT salaries were set by the Arbitration Panel after this year’s freeze. Ms Haynie does have a college degree and is certainly respected by her BOE colleagues as Chair of the Personnel and Negotiations Committee – the Board’s most prominent Committee.. Charges that BOE members select textbooks recall the Tooth Fairy. Commentators taken seriously avoid false claims and display their true names. Why hide behind nasty diatribes. Be proud of our BOE. We don’t have revolving door Supts or golden contracts with the NFT. Times have changed. That’s why the NFT is rooting to bring back the Democrats and the gravy train.

  5. Lisa Thomson

    Marjoriem – Mr. Berman beat me to it. Those with an axe to grind with Ms. Haynie hide behind pseudonyms and talk out of both sides of their mouth. One minute she is a miser, stingy and trying to rip food off the tables of teachers and in the next moment she is a spendthrift. The reality is attorney Tom Mooney conducted the negotiations and represented the BOE in the arbitration hearing – NOT Ms. Haynie. I personally witnessed some of the arbitration hearings and it was the Arbitration Board that split the difference down the middle – a freeze this year, a raise in the second and a reopener in the third, because apparently NPS and the NFT have the most dysfunctional and illogical contract in the state, according to the arbitration board that looks at 169 districts. IMHO Marjoriem is trying to discredit Ms. Haynie with fiscal conservatives by accusing her of being a spendthrift. Good luck with that one. The bottom line is we need to figure out how to educate our kids in this country with going bankrupt in the process. Not just a Norwalk issue! Perhaps the reason Ms. Haynie creates such a stir is that she asks the difficult questions – and that makes the folks who have been in charge for the past 40 years – in particular Mr. Mellion somewhat annoyed. Serious campaigning going on by the NFT to unseat Ms. Haynie with anonymous bullies…I mean bloggers!

  6. marjoriem

    First of all, I have nothing to do with the union. Okay, what college degree does Ms. Haynie hold and from what university? That’s just my first question.

    (Editor’s note: I checked Ms. Haynie’s Linked-In page, where she lists a bachelor of arts from Charter Oak State College in 2001, which followed an associates of applied science degree (AAS) in 1983 from Parsons School of Design.)

  7. marjoriem

    While I am waiting for an answer on the degree and college graduated for Sue Haynie, I thought I should mention that the people identified here who back Sue Haynie are Red Apples. Big surprise. These are Sue Haynie’s cheerleaders who deny truth by making up their own reality. Thy are great at spin. Find out the truth for yourself. Ask people who regularly attend Board meetings about Haynie and her antics.

  8. Lisa Thomson

    Marjoriem – Just about everybody who reads or comments on NON knows I am a reformer,as is Ms. Haynie. But unlike you, I post under my OWN name! Also,anyone who might check the http://www.redapplesnorwalk.org website, courtesy of all the free publicity you and other anonymous bloggers give us would read that that I am a co-founder and have voluntarily kept the website populated for the past 4 years with educational data and links to databases on both on a national, state and local level. Since June, 2012 (when I put a counter on the website) there have been over 45,000 visits, viewing 166,000 pages! Seems more than just a few folks are paying attention to what is going on in the world of education. We hardly represent the fringe 🙂

  9. Piberman

    To Marjoriem ?

    Perhaps the very best endorsement of Ms Haynie is from the NFT monthly Vanguard sharply criticizing her and urging public school teachers to remove her from the Board. Month after month after month. And for the “crime” of Arbitration saving the City $2.6 million. And now the NFT (president) supports all Democrats running for office. And they’re looking to restore $26.5 million in “lost” funding.

    In point of fact Ms Haynie to those who closely follow the BOE is a totally superb BOE member. That’s why the unions are moving heaven and earth to deny her re-election. We all remember when Democrats controlled the BOE and gave the unions Carte Blanche. We remember that 2 of the 3 Democrats on the BOE voted against hiring Dr Riviera.

    The real question is what’s Marjoriem’s agenda ? Seeking a seat on the BOE to protect the unions ? Tell us oh Great One !

    (This comment has been edited for accuracy of information)

  10. marjoriem

    Oh my! The Red Apples have me on their “hit list.” Guess they don’t like criticism. Again, not surprising!
    As for the college listed on Sue Haynie’s linked-in page, I did read up on it. “As a nontraditional college, Charter Oak State College is designed to provide adults with an alternative means to earn degrees. ” I believe that refers to their online courses.
    Sorry, folks, but the truth is the RedApples are the biggest troublemakers around. The trouble they make is definitely NOT in the interests of our students.
    What the RedApples are doing here is obvious. They are bullying me. It’s what they do best. Vote for them and you are voting for the bullies, the teacher bashers and the last people you would want to support education.

  11. independent

    Can we remain civil and look at the persons qualifications, accomplishmets and goals, not the party affilation exclusively, unfounded rumours, accusations and gossip.
    Can we stay focused. We are raising the bar for the children, how about raising the bar for the adults, ourselves. Can we stick to the issues and platforms and lighten up on the vitriol. Sure we can. Sue has made significant contributions but she is human and makes errors, as do we all. Those that cast stones, may you never live in a glass house and toss an errant pitch. Thank you Ms. Haynie for your contributions and efforts. Some days have been real tough and you have hung in there. That means something, means allot, to many of us paying attention. Good luck to ya Sue.

  12. “Sue Haynie negotiated next year’s teaches’ salaries. They will break the BoE’s bank! Taxpayers beware! You will be paying much more in taxes due to her lack of knowledge on negotiations. Teachers are delighted with the big raises they will be getting.” – Marjoriem.

    This is nonsense. Winning a wage freeze was a huge win for the Board and Norwalk’s taxpayers. Yes, the union got the wage increase it asked for in year 2, but it had looked for a 3.5% increase in year one on top of that (but got 0%). Would a 7.5% increase over two years have been better for the taxpayers than the 4% increase awarded? The union also wanted a big raise in year 3, but the Board won on that one, too, getting a reopener to address the entire salary structure, which the arbitrators stated was “dysfunctional” with benefits “unprecedented in the state”.

    Only on this blog could someone seriously claim that we’d have been better off with a 7.5% increase over two years (over 10% over three years if the union got its way) than with the 4% over two years we’ll pay, coupled with the right to address the “dysfunctional” pay system left to us to clean up by prior Boards of Education.

  13. Norwalk Lifer

    Character assassination from the head of the BOE, I am shocked, shocked! I tell you!

    Norwalk Lifer

  14. Correcting misstatements with the facts is “character assassination”?

  15. Lisa Thomson

    Marjoriem: LOL! Just exactly how does one ‘bully’ an annonymous pseudonym in cyberspace?

  16. marjoriem

    Lisa, I thought you knew everything, but here’s one you missed:
    Cyberbullying is the use of the Internet and related technologies to harm or harass other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.[1] As it has become more common in society, particularly among young people, legislation and awareness campaigns have arisen to combat it.

  17. Suzanne

    Marjoriem, you are quickly casting yourself into the cyberbullying role you describe which, ironically, is supposed to be the domain of “young people” and, yet, you happily imbibe. I really don’t know a lot about the politics here but I do know politics: personal bias, name-calling, without foundation criticisms, these are exactly the things you write and exactly what you describe as “cyberbullying.” It’s the kind of thing we all complain about with Congress and then wonder why they don’t get things done. Your missives don’t contribute. Rejoin the land of the living and contribute something worthwhile to the discussion – criticism is fine if it can be validated with fact. Go for it. You seem to be knowledgeable but don’t seem to want to use your noggin’.

  18. Lisa Thomson

    Marjoriem – I have never harassed or bullied anyone on the internet. I do rise to the defense of Ms. Haynie or when you make unsubstantiated claims against Red Apples, I will set the record straight. You are very bold with your keystrokes and have viciously attacked Ms. Haynie and myself repeatedly under the “safety” of a pseudonym. You are within your right to disagree with Ms. Haynie or myself or anyone else on this blog, but when you distort the truth or outright LIE, you will be called out on it by several individuals. That is not cyber bullying. I am very pleased that Norwalk voters have some clear choices this election year. May the best men or women win 🙂

  19. marjoriem

    Another fact: If you do your research on teachers’ salaries, most cities got 0% for one year. This was not out of the ordinary. To lose on class size AND salary in arbitration for the second year was a huge loss for the negotiating committee. The negotiating committee, under the direction of Sue Haynie, presented the losing side. The arbitrators make decisions by choosing items from the what the two sides present. It is obvious that Sue Haynie did not know what she was doing by presenting her side. The teachers are overjoyed with their win.

  20. Mike Lyons

    The union lost two of the three years in question. We knew the arbitrators wouldn’t give either side all three years. I’m glad the teachers are happy with getting one out of three. Is your position that Ms. Haynie would have done better with 1/3 than the 2/3 she won? I’m failing to see the logic here,

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