NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s voters have an unusually large field to choose from in the Nov. 5 contentious Board of Education race.
Four of the nine seats on Norwalk’s Board of Education are up for election this year. Ten candidates are vying for the positions: Four Republicans, four Democrats and two from the newly created Norwalk Community Values Party.
Here’s a rundown of the candidates’ top priorities should they win, as told via the League of Women Voters survey:
Republican newcomer John Bazzano says he plans to work on improving the boards’ transparency, help new Schools Superintendent Manuel Rivera implement his vision for Norwalk schools and understand the board’s finance. But he wrote that as a new member, his first priority was to learn and listen to “…try and understand all sides of the issues.”
Steve Colarossi, an incumbent running with the Norwalk Community Values Party, has a platform that includes improving the “transparency and efficiency” of the budget process and the responsiveness of the board to parents’ needs. His first listed priority is to improve education, through a five-point plan that includes changing the language arts program to improve literacy and performing a “comprehensive review” of the special education process.
Democrat Sherelle Harris says she plans to continue to support early childhood programs and “create an inclusive environment” to help close Norwalk’s achievement gap. But her response says she is most interested in “agreeing on a curriculum that raises the bar across the board in literacy.”
Republican incumbent Sue Haynie also pledges support for Rivera, and stresses a focus on professional development in the implementation of the new Common Core State Standards. Her platform also advocates a study of the three-year budget review, which she says will “give us the time to figure out how we can best stay true to the strategic plan and also stay within budget.”
Republican Vice Chair Artie Kassimis says his focus is on supporting and working with the new superintendent and implementing the suggestions of the financial audit to bring costs down. He also says the board should “work closely with our city’s Police and Fire Departments and ensure that all security measures are being followed.”
Heidi Keyes, the lone incumbent on the Democratic ticket, wants to help Rivera on his plans for central office reorganization and Common Core implementation, and also says that she plans to work on the board’s transparency. As the former head of a preschool, she is also advocating for “the importance that all children be exposed to an early learning environment.”
Shirley Mosby, a Democrat looking to rejoin the board, lists her priorities as narrowing the achievement gap, implementing the Common Core, improving security and, improving relationships with parents and the larger community. “I will be available to all, and I will listen,” she says.
The other Norwalk Community Values candidate, Andres Roman, says his top priority is closing the achievement gap, specifically through implementing a new reading program. He also pledges to scrutinize the budget and “question any irregularities or vague requests,” and to improve transparency on the board.
Lauren Rosato, a newcomer on the Republican side, also lists support for Rivera and improved security as some of her top concerns. She also proposes a new budget process with more clarity and a focus on long-term goals that will help with “balancing the financial needs of the Norwalk taxpayer with the educational needs of our children.”
Democrat Haroldo Williams says he wants to lay out clear goals and objectives for the school board that will help measure its success, and to work with the community to develop a plan to close the achievement gap. He also says he hopes to use business-style practices to “identify deficiencies and ineffectiveness in the loose process that is being used to propose, select, and implement the new initiatives.”
To see each candidate’s full response to questions on issues such as the budget process, communication with the public, their personal qualifications and more, check out the League of Women Voters’ annual candidates’ guide. A copy of the guide is attached below.