Jack Chiaramonte, a vocal critic of the teachers union, was elected chairman of the Board of Education on Tuesday evening. Chiaramonte, who represents District D, will be chairman for the next year. Former Chair Glenn Iannaccone becomes Vice Chair, and Jody Bishop-Pullan is secretary. All three were elected unanimously by their fellow board members.
Mayor Richard Moccia, who presided over the elections as an ex-officio member, and Superintendent Susan Marks thanked Iannaccone for his service and expressed good wishes to Chiaramonte. "I'm glad you chose me," said Marks referring to Iannaccone's role in hiring her, "and I look forward to working with Jack."
Chiaramonte has served on the board for three years, and he and Iannaccone are the panel's senior Republicans. According to BOE bylaws, the majority party holds the chairman and vice chairman positions, while the minority party gets secretary.
In an interview prior to the meeting, Chiaramonte said he has a "common sense approach." He said the current board has made "vast improvements" to the school district. "We selected a terrific new superintendent and have improved special education."
Chiaramonte plans to "watch how every dollar is being spent." He does not believe that money is the only answer to the issues facing the district. "We need to be frugal. Now is a time we have to do more with less."
During last year's budget reconciliation process, Chiaramonte often expressed frustration with Bruce Mellion, president of the Norwalk Federation of Teachers, for not agreeing to givebacks. "There was mistrust on both sides," Chiaramonte said. However, he credits Marks with bringing all parties, including union members, administrators and BOE members, together in the form of a committee to start working on the budget. "She is a bridge builder and is bringing everyone to the table right from the beginning."
Mellion, too, was conciliatory toward Chiaramonte. "What is done is done," he said. "What is important now is that Jack be a positive and constructive force as a leader."
Chiaramonte, owner of Sono Silver, a jewelry store in South Norwalk, has two children at Norwalk High and is a "proud band parent." He moved to Norwalk from Queens in 1991. "I like it here. Norwalk is a real town where people help one another."
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