NORWALK, Conn. — Some Norwalk education and political developments:
- Norwalk BoE stays the course
- NPS works to fill open positions
- ‘Bizarre rule’ seen as a way to sabotage Democrats
Hosten remains chairman
Four Board of Education members were sworn in Tuesday for their four-year terms: Colin Hosten, Kara Baekey, Sheri McCready Brown and Janine Randolph, all of them Democrats.
The executive committee did not change: Hosten was reelected chairman, Diana Carpio was elected vice chairwoman and Godfrey Azima was elected secretary.
This was done in a very non-contentious way: Erica DePalma nominated all three at once. There were no other nominations, and Mayor Harry Rilling declared the three has having won the election.
Rilling thanked the new members and told the members who have been serving that they have been doing “a wonderful job on behalf of the City, on behalf of the children of Norwalk.”
‘COVID is a factor’
NPS is seeing more retirements mid-year among its teaching staff, or, “more people who are just deciding to leave employment mid-year than we typically used to see,” NPS Chief Financial Officer Thomas Hamilton said last week. “It’s hard to know exactly what the drivers of that are, and sometimes it’s very individualized decisions. But certainly COVID is, you know, is a factor, no doubt about it.”
Hamilton said it in the context of budget funds that aren’t being spent.
NPS Communications Director Brenda Wilcox Williams explained to NancyOnNorwalk:
“Almost all districts in the state are experiencing teacher shortages. Like other districts throughout Connecticut, many of our vacancies are in critical shortage subject areas, such as math, science, bilingual and special education. We’re fortunate that our vacancies are much lower than some other districts, although we are currently recruiting to fill 70 vacancies.
“In any year, recruiting is a year-round process as we look to fill both expected and unexpected vacancies, whether those are due to retirements, family leave, moves out of the area, or other reasons. Our HR team has a proactive recruitment plan that includes job postings on both education and general job platforms, such as CTReap, Indeed, Handshake and LinkedIn; national listings in education journals; advertisements throughout the region; outreach through local and national universities; and our own job fairs.”
Sixth Taxing District to choose new Commissioner
The late Mike Barbis has been honored in multiple ways since his sudden death in September. His seats on the Board of Education and the Sixth Taxing District remain open.
While the Democratic Town Committee will appoint a new BoE member for District E, two sources say the Sixth Taxing District seat will go to someone chosen by the remaining two 6TD Commissioners.
No more than two Commissioners may be from one political party, 6TD says on its website. Tammy Langalis, a veteran Commissioner, is a Republican and independent candidate Andy Meyerson was just elected to the seat vacated by John Igneri.
Priscilla Feral, a Democrat who ran against Meyerson, sees a problem. She wrote:
“There’s a bizarre rule that gives a Republican 6th Taxing District Commissioner and Andy Meyerson the right to choose a Democrat to replace their friend, Mike Barbis, who always disparaged Democrats.
“If the Board of Education has to go to the DTC to fill his seat, the same should be true for Commissioners. Otherwise this feels like a way to sabotage Democrats.”
It’s reportedly in the City Code that taxing districts operate this way. When the First Taxing District needed to replace the late Marija Bryant, the remaining Commissioners voted to select a new Commissioner.
Langalis did not reply to an email asking about the situation.
Ferel said the charter needs to be revised. She wrote:
“The Commissioners could pick Nora King, a registered Democrat. Here’s her Facebook page on Nov. 2nd.
“Vote today! Especially today. Help celebrate the life of Mike Barbis. Mike worked hard to help Lisa Thompson Brinton, Jody Saddler, Heather Schneider, Andy Meyerson, Price Snedaker and other Independents have a chance on the ballot today. Vote for the memory of Mike today! … Mike knew that Norwalk’s political landscape needed new people to create new energy. He supported everyone on the Independent ticket!”
The Sixth Taxing District is scheduled to meet Wednesday. The agenda includes “Notice of a person to fill Mike Barbis’ remaining term” under new business.
Commissioners oversee a budget of about $2 million a year.
DTC Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez said the DTC will select a new BoE member to represent District E in mid-December.
Following an autopsy, the state medical examiner’s office determined Barbis’ cause of death was atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease.
Updated, 5 p.m.: Information added.