Q&A with Norwalk Candidates for Board of Education

The 2023 Election is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

NancyOnNorwalk recently sent out questions to all candidates for Board of Education: five Democrats, one Republican and three Independents.

We are publishing their responses as separate posts, so readers can find candidates by their voting districts.

Questions were sent via email and the answers have not been edited or copy-edited other than for formatting issues.

We hope this provides you with even more information when you head to the polls this coming Tuesday. Bob Giolitto, a volunteer, did the legwork and we are grateful.

Click on the links below to jump to candidates Q+A.

District A:

Samantha Pleasants

Alexandra Kemeny

District B:

Rasheemah Richardson

Howard White

District C:

Diana Carpio

Nicole Hampton

District D:

Ashley Gulyas

Doug Hempstead

District E:

Mary-Ellen Flaherty-Ludwig

(Note: Candidates not linked did not return answers to our questionnaires in time for publication.)


4 responses to “Q&A with Norwalk Candidates for Board of Education”

  1. Bryan Meek

    Since it is over 1/2 the city budget, it would make sense that CC candidates answer these as well even if they only have fiduciary oversight and not operational.

    I’ll give it a shot here:

    Top 3 issues.

    1. Lack of focus on academics. Many of the men and women of varying races and backgrounds that put astronauts on the moon went to one room school houses that focused on core subjects instead of victimology. Children who master reading and writing and work ethic will go on to have rewarding careers full of self esteem while children who don’t make the grade (70% of our students are not career or college ready) will struggle and need more social services well into adulthood.

    2. Top heavy organization. The first principal at West Rocks Middle school taught 3 sections of English and had a secretary that answered the phone. Today we have several 100s of people on the payroll that do not work children anywhere near 4 hours a day. The Staff to student ratio is 6 to 1 now with class sizes in the mid 20s. That means for every one classroom there are 3 people on the payroll who are not in a dedicated classroom.

    3. Cut the fat. New furniture on the third floor sends a bad message to taxpayers that you simply do not care what you do with their money when we have school buildings that are falling to seed from lack of repairs and maintenance. Also stop the parties and catered lunches every week. You are paid well enough to provide for your own food. And the welcome center is a nice idea but for the rent you are paying versus the foot traffic it is another luxury we can not afford. If a local business paying similar rent only had 10 customers a day they’d be out of business. The more money you take from taxpayers, the harder and longer they have to work for that money. Time that could be spent with their children nurturing and supporting them. Start respecting the taxpayers and stop this gravy train.

  2. Bryan Meek

    Now that my first post cleared moderation, I’ll answer the teacher burnout and collaboration questions.

    Teacher burnout is resolved when you reduce rid of the 3 to 1 ratio of staff to dedicated to a classroom teachers. The bureaucratic make work that fuels paychecks for people who do not educate children on our dime goes away and so does the headaches it gives our front line workers. It seems as if there is bi-partisan consensus here that teachers need to be empowered not overburdened with stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with teaching children math and reading.

    Collaboration happens when there is a true reorganization of our city government. Not like the recent re-org that simply created new departments with more layers and more headcount doing God knows what all day long working from home still. That and it would include actually implementing efficiency study after efficiency study sitting on shelves somewhere collecting dust. We don’t need 2 IT, 2 Finance, 2 HR, departments, etc…. When you bring the operations of shared services together where they make sense then the two sides will have to collaborate more. The current system is broken because no one wants to give up their fiefdoms of redundancy.

  3. Adam Blank

    Bryan your comments are very misleading. You clearly want readers to believe that central office employees far outnumber “teachers” on the ground. In reality, the vast majority of the budget and personnel is allocated to classroom and school services. Taken directly from BOE budget https://www.norwalkps.org/departments/finance-purchasing/2022-23-budget-documents :

    Classroom & School Services 185,172,043 85.0%
    Business Services 13,070,968 6.0%
    Operations 10,892,473 5.0%
    Professional Development 6,535,484 3.0%
    General Administration 2,178,494 1.0%
    217,849,462 100.0%

    * Classroom Services include student support,
    educators, instructional support staff,
    busing, counseling

    • Business Services include information
    technology, human resources, legal services,
    accounting, payroll

    • Operations includes maintaining a safe,
    functional environment for student learning

    • Professional Development includes
    instructional support, curriculum instruction

    • General Administration includes
    administrative roles in central office and
    across the district

  4. Bryan Meek

    Adam. Where did I say central office? Those are your words, not mine. I said direct classroom assignment based on average class size of 24 students. That ratio is 3 to 1. There are other functions needed, but janitors and kitchen staff do not explain the disparity.

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