Democratic BOE incumbent is lifelong Norwalker

Democrat Heid Keyes is running for re-election to the Norwalk Board of Education.
Democrat Heid Keyes is running for re-election to the Norwalk Board of Education.

NORWALK, Conn. – Democrat Heidi Keyes is running for re-election to the Norwalk Board of Education. The lifelong Norwalk resident is the mother of three children currently in the school system and is a big supporter of new Superintendent Manny Rivera. She currently serving as BOE secretary.

Keyes provided the following answers to a set of questions NancyOnNorwalk sent to all BOE candidates:

NoN: Why are you running for the Board of Education? What are your qualifications?

HK: I am very excited about running for the Board of Education again. First and foremost, I want to continue what I started. I have a true, vested interest in Norwalk Public Schools.

The school system is headed in the right direction with the addition of our newly hired nationally recognized Superintendent Dr. Manuel Rivera. I have gone through two superintendent searches and I believe that Dr. Rivera will move our schools into the 21st century. I want to put him in the best position to succeed. Dr. Rivera has a true vision of what our district needs to succeed. As a current board member I have supported Dr. Rivera’s plan to significantly reorganize central office. This plan will help us move towards a better management plan and help us to continue to progress forward.

I bring a unique perspective, since I have lived in Norwalk my entire life and have attended Norwalk Schools. I have three children in the Norwalk school system at all levels: elementary, middle and high school. I am committed to the success of all the children in our district.

I am qualified for this position since I have four years experience as a Board of Education member and one year in an executive position as secretary. In addition, I am a strong advocate for early childhood education since I operated my own preschool program for six years in Silvermine. I also have my degree in Early Childhood Education. I am currently an educational assistant for the New Canaan Public Schools. I have a background as a parent advocate and facilitator for the Parent Leadership Training Institute and Parents Supporting Educational Excellence.

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

HK: If I were to get re-elected I would continue my work on the Spotlight section of our meetings. As board secretary, I have taken the reins on this and have worked to showcase the great things students and our schools are doing. We have showcased not only sports but also the arts, music and academics. Unfortunately, it seems our school district comes up short when it comes to being recognized for the great things our students, teachers and schools are doing. We need to change the way the public views our school system. Not only do we have a great city to live in but an improving school district that has students and teachers achieving great things. I would also like to continue my work on the Policy Committee. I have worked with other members to pass our bullying policy as well as social media and other policies.

We need to continue to invest and support our early childhood initiatives. I will continue to advocate and stress the importance that all children be exposed to an early learning environment. Secondly, it is imperative to have good communication between board members, central office and the community. The community must be able to trust that communication between all stakeholders is open and transparent. Norwalk Public Schools has 11,000 students and 19 schools. We need to have a strong central office to support this. We have already started to implement this by hiring our new nationally recognized superintendent who I strongly support.

I am committed to continuing to work on getting more members of the community to our Board of Education meetings. As a current board member I have signed and approved our Civility Code and am working on getting our website updated so that it is more user-friendly and accessible. In addition, I support the need for our meetings to be videotaped for viewing on cable television and via computer.

I think priorities include continuing the progress we have made in implementing the first phases of the Common Core curriculum and focus on narrowing the achievement gap so that all our children can move on to college or some form of higher education. As it stands now, 87 percent of our students are graduating from high school and only 75 percent are off to higher learning. We need to raise the bar and strive to have 100 percent for both. In addition, it is imperative to create a budget that is fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of Norwalk but allows the district to secure the highest quality teachers and staff.

NoN: Are professional staff salaries too high?

HK: I think that you really need to look at professional staff salaries on a case-by-case basis. There should be consistency in the way we evaluate salaries but should look at several factors. We should look at other districts that are similar to Norwalk and compare. As a district, we want to attract the most qualified individuals for a position. In order to do this you need to pay a salary commensurate with the position and experience of the individual. It must also be a salary that the district can afford. As a board member, it is critically important to review the numbers closely and to find the best person for the position. Dr. Rivera is already starting to build his team to work closely with him. The board must achieve a balance between the need for the position, the importance of the position and what it can afford.

NoN: Should there be armed guards in school?

HK: I am for implementing a school security plan that ensures the safety of children and teachers. This year as part of the board we instituted a plan to increase police resource officers in our schools and have the city police department perform facility security audits. The police resource officers are armed but I would be against any other school personnel carrying weapons. In addition, each school’s Safety Committees will report on their schools specific needs. We have appropriated $100,000 in order to make safety improvements along with implementing new communication protocols to get the word out quickly to parents regarding any incidents at the schools.

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

HK: I am in full support of the transition to Common Core standards. The curricula will be phased in over time, but I believe we need to set the bar high and raise the rigor for our students.

NoN: Are you in favor of education reform? What are your reasons for your opinion?

HK: I am in favor of creating a school system that is inclusive and is challenging for all students and most importantly, creates a learning environment that fosters excellence. However, I do believe that we need to think outside the box. For example, continue to make technological improvements and create partnerships with the business community and other community groups to expand opportunities for students and teachers.

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

HK: No one in my family is a teacher or works for the schools. I am an educational assistant for the town of New Canaan.


3 responses to “Democratic BOE incumbent is lifelong Norwalker”

  1. parent paying attention

    Another one of our volunteer education superheros, raising the bar. Thank you Heidi for stepping up again and for all you have done and will continue to do. Checking the box for Heidi.

  2. Lights, camera annnd, ACTION !!!

    Congratulations to Norwalk High teachers Kyle Seaburg and Robert Karl on securing the $72,000 grant from the Public, Educational and Governmental Programming and Educational Technology Investment Account. Excellent, absolutely, excellent. Now lets get the students back on the air after a 4 decade hiatus. Awesome work Kyle, way to go.

  3. Piberman

    Unlike the other two Democrat BOE members who objected to hiring Dr Riviera Ms Keyes has been a hard working and conscientious member who was instrumental in rejuvenating our long discredited BOE in the glory days when it was run by Democrats serving the unions. Even though Ms Keyes is a Democrat she merits re-election by virtue of her accomplishments on the BOE. Even Republicans acknowledge she has been a capable BOE member.

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