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Candidate Tom Kelly: 'Watch Every Penny'

My name is Tom Kelly, and I'm running for the Trumbull Board of Finance. Since 2009, I have served on the Trumbull Board of Education. I'm proud to have served on the Board when Full-Day Kindergarten was implemented, which has moved our school system ahead.

We also made many difficult decisions in a challenging budget environment to preserve the quality of our school system.  I am a strong proponent for school safety and eliminating the onerous pay-to-participate fees charged to Trumbull parents.

If elected, I will watch every penny, and challenge any spending that does not provide value to Trumbull taxpayers. Also, I will be a consistent advocate for reasonable sewer use fees. The recent staggering 34% increases in our sewer use fees have placed an unfair burden on our household budgets. 

I grew up in Trumbull, and I love this town.  I graduated from St. Theresa's School, Trumbull High School, and Sacred Heart University.

I believe in volunteer service, and one of my passions is to give back to my community and support those in need. I am a lector and participate in social outreach activities at my parish; I am a member of St. Theresa's Knights of Columbus Council 8013; participated in multiple food drives for the Trumbull Food Pantry; serve on the Trumbull Community Television Advisory Board; and am Chairman of the Board of Education Finance Committee. I respectfully ask for your vote on November 5 for me and the entire Martha Jankovic-Mark Democratic ticket. Thank you.

Tom Kelly

Dan Luposki October 14, 2013 at 08:01 AM
TK: Unfortunately your credibility with the Trumbull electorate has plummeted. You spend countless hour with your colleagues responding to orchestrated issues that for the most part deal with minutia. Your sole purpose is to keep your name in the news. I frequently find your actions offensive (filming etc.) and you frequently forget That your role is to work with board of education members and the administration in a state defined role. You have weighed in on numerous town issues and grandstand for political gains. Both Ms. Seaman and Herbst should be credited with forcing the board to consider all day K and your leadership on the board has been negligible. Furthermore, you have aligned yourself with angry and often caustic colleagues who at best represent only a small minority of Trumbull voters. Sorry, Tom, your platform is weak, but i do admire your ability to spend countless hours on the blogs. In the real world I cannot take your candidacy to watch my "penny" seriously. Watching the FS debate was a painful exercise for the voters. Mr. Herbst was articulate, cogent and prepared. Not only has Martha missed the Mark, she was ill prepared, did not have facts correct and did not provide her ideology nor platform. Unfortunately, you are rowing her boat up the creek
Joan October 14, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Looks like the powers that be on the Trumbull Republican committee are still smarting from Mr. Kelly moving to the other party when he realized that Tim Herbst had no intention of keeping the promises on which he ran for election in 2009. (Anybody seen Herbst's "Blueprint for Trumbull" lately?) Funny, isn't it, how many former close Herbst associates have chosen to do the same, Herbst may be glib and a slick political debater, but he has done little to move Trumbull forward. In fact, he has cost our town thousands, if not millions, of dollars (losing 100 seats in the new science and technology magnet school being Exhibit A). If the voters want to elect people based on their fast talk and window dressing, and not on their years of public service and commitment to Trumbull over the long term, well, then they will get more of the same. Tom Kelly is the real deal, devoting countless volunteer hours to making our town better for ALL of our residents. I wonder if the same can be said of his detractor here, let alone our fearless leader in Town Hall.
saddem October 15, 2013 at 06:14 AM
Thank you Steve Ciccone for the single greatest comment ever to be put on patch
Roy Fuchs October 16, 2013 at 09:21 AM
Moving beyond Mr. Ciccone's argumentum ad hominem, let's look at the facts of FDK. Having covered the BoE for three budget cycles for Patch, I must note that Mr. Herbst had nothing to do implementing FDK - beyond recalling that it was an issue when he was a student, then jumping on the bandwagon after the BoE and then Superintendent Iassogna had laid the groundwork. In fact, the FS forced the BoE to underspend its already crimped budget by almost $1M to fund the program's start up. And given the crush of mandates, rising contractual costs (do you deny our teachers, e.g., the same salary increases you seek?) and the resulting fact that the FS has made funding our education system a virtual zero sum game, it is a wonder our schools continue to offer the quality education they do. The ultimate cost, however, has been academic innovation. Just one example: our school's leaders would like to introduce a focused STEM program (science, technology, engineering and math), one that addresses one of our nation's greatest needs, but lack the resources. And here the FS remains entirely silent.
Kristy Ludlam Waizenegger October 16, 2013 at 10:28 AM
The above basically sets forth Mr. Fuch's plans if he is elected. Spend, spend, spend. I work in the private sector Mr. Fuchs and while we would all love to get salary increases every year, many private sector employees have lived with zero increases for several years, some have gotten 2 - 3% increases but do the math, may as well be zero. My health insurance is fantastric but I pay 1/3 of the premium and I have a deductible, which brings premium down significantly - did you know that the teachers' contract has no deductibles? Do you believe it would be fiscally prudent to take steps to reduce the cost of health insurance for teachers and other town employees? You talk about funding as if it is the solution to everything. If that were the case than the Bridgeport schools should be the best in the country. Perhaps you should stop voting for the people in Hartford who pass some of these ridiculous mandates. Perhaps you should stop voting for the people who make so many changes to our students' curriculum that it makes it impossible for teachers. You talk about focusing on science, technology and math but you vote for people who compel our schools to have more ceramics classes while students get shut out of AP classes.
Roy Fuchs October 16, 2013 at 12:09 PM
Ms. Waizenegger, please, a correct spelling, "Fuchs'" or "Fuchs's." But to the issues. As memory serves, our teachers went two of the three years of their recent contract with zero increases, then received something like 2.5 percent in the final year, so they are sharing your pain, and they, too, are well behind inflation. Yes, I agree that health insurance costs must be better managed. I thought that 20 years ago when I served on Westport's BoF and had to deal with double digit annual increases, and I believe it today. And I am not a fan of all of the changes forced on our schools, funded or unfunded. One of the worst continues to be No Child Left Behind, legislation created and sponsored by George Bush (43) and designed to separate the bad schools from the truly bad. That it may do. But, in fact, it does little to distinguish the "A's" from the "B's," and only forced quality systems like ours to replace critical thinking with teaching to more pervasive and increasingly higher stakes standardized tests. I reserve judgement on the Common Core State Standards. It may be an excellent upgrade. But then it well be that dollars required to fund its implementation would be better spent on strengthening our own curriculum - with over 90 percent of THS graduates going on higher education, and 70 percent to four year colleges, we are clearly doing something(s) right. And you suggest that desiring schools that offer the education students need to compete successfully in the 21st century is a luxury Trumbull cannot afford. To the contrary, it is a necessity we cannot ignore. The quality of a community's schools are one of the major attractions for the young families that vitalize a community, and that enhance the value of everyone's homes.
Kristy Ludlam Waizenegger October 16, 2013 at 12:33 PM
"And you suggest that desiring schools that offer the education students need to compete successfully in the 21st century is a luxury Trumbull cannot afford." Mr. Fuchs please clarify where I suggested any such thing. Nobody need ceramics or baking to compete in the 21st century. Students need to master our language, reading, math and science - they need to learn how to think. Standardized tests do not teach people how to think. The federal government does not belong in the states' business. I would even argue that the state should not be involved in education but clearly some towns and cities have demonstrated that they are not capable of educating their children and those districts are where the focus should be, not on districts like ours that clearly provide a fantastic education. We will never be able to improve the education of students in some towns and cities until we are willing to have an honest discussion about why students are failing. The teachers in all these towns and cities and doing their best to teach these kids - there are other issues and we need to be able to talk freely about them in order to solve problems. The answers are not in these one size fits all mandates, I think we can agree on that. Good luck in the election Mr. Fuchs and if elected, I see large tax increases in the future.
Thomas Tesoro October 16, 2013 at 03:29 PM
Trumbull has a very good education system at a below average per pupil cost. Trumbull High School is a comprehensive high school that must address the needs of all students. When I was growing up in Mount Vernon there was a General High School and a technical high school focuseed on trades. Eventuually they were merged into a single High School that served both populations. While the vast majority of students go on to further their education, others choose to enter the world of business, the military or other occupation. I am not talking about the "big issues" of federal involvement in the schools that will be dealt with in Washington. Maybe the Republicans can threaten to destroy our full faith and credit over that the next time. We however must focus on Trumbull and the fact that the Trumbull School System must live with both federal and state mandates most of which are unfunded. The trick is to meet the requirement without losing local control and the Democratic BOE has done remarkably well in that regard. As for tax increases, my sewer use bill is up over 30%, my personal property tax is up over 25% and I know because I am on the BOF that this years mil rate is as phoney as a 3 dollar bill becuase it does not reflect real spending and revenue. It is a Washington style mil rate that bears no resemblance to reality. This is what happens when you have in effect one man rule in Trumbull. Please read Greg Basbagil's letter and you will see clearly what has happened to government in Trumbull.
Kristy Ludlam Waizenegger October 16, 2013 at 06:43 PM
If that's the case Tom T then I'm sure you'll agree it was the exact same way when the Democrats were in the majority. No, two wrongs don't make a right but let's be fair, what's good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander. Hope all is well with you. Good luck in the upcoming election.
Thomas Tesoro October 16, 2013 at 08:53 PM
Hi Kristy, The Democrats were no angels but at no time did they deny the Republicans an alternate of their choice although they MAY have denied a specific request. Also at no time did the Democrats (who had the power to do so) try to create a 17 to 4 supermajority. Nevertheless I hope all is well with you and the at your daughter is still considering my alma mater. Both my daughters went there and both are now working at good jobs. College years go by fast and expensively. :)
JR October 17, 2013 at 08:26 AM
KLW - You had four years to address the insurance premiums. Herbst called the contract negotiated with the teachers a "slam dunk". You didn't agree? I didn't hear any opposition from you.
Kristy Ludlam Waizenegger October 17, 2013 at 08:34 AM
I can only provide input JR, I don't negotiate and contract. And, I commented before and after the negotiations that deductibles are the only way to bring down premium.
Cindy Katske October 17, 2013 at 01:31 PM
Having two children who are artists and who are studying or plan to study such 21st-century subjects as animation and game design, with the goal of careers in those fields, I must strenuously object to the notion that ceramics class is unnecessary for students to compete successfully in the marketplace. It is absolutely ludicrous that a school the size of THS does not have even more art course offerings, including courses in computer-generated art and AP art. What's also interesting is that the marriage of art and technology, art and science, art and business, etc. is going to be an exploding field in the near future, and there aren't enough qualified workers to fill the jobs even today. The argument that we should not be providing art or baking classes at THS has become trite and meaningless, in my opinion. We need to fill the needs of all students, including those like mine.
Kristy Ludlam Waizenegger October 17, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Your objection is noted.
Roy Fuchs October 17, 2013 at 02:03 PM
I'm stepping in and out of this chain, so I may have missed something. But what seems to be the elephant in the room is that one party has yet to look beyond its green eye shade, while the other talks to what our students need to compete in the 21st century. What is called for is a Vision for Education, a 2020 plan that looks out perhaps seven years, at what the demands and requirements will be on and for our students. Then we should create a plan that gets us there, costing out individual programs and setting priorities defined by what we are willing to spend. As a part of this we should look, first at what other schools in our DRG are doing and planning - from Greenwich to Fairfield and Monroe, then evaluate select programs across the state, particularly those in Fairfield County whose budgets are as starved as ours. Trumbull does a good job in providing and maintaining status quo across its existing curriculum. But has not been given the funding to innovate, e.g., to introduce Macs into the art curriculum so our students can learn on the tools of the trade, or even to replace textbooks on a timely basis. Perhaps we could learn from other districts, to strengthen what we already offer, to invest to innovate, and to better prepare our students for the world they'll face, not the one we faced.
Tony Silber October 17, 2013 at 04:01 PM
I think there are worthy arguments from both perspectives here, including Kristy's concerns about spending and about the root causes of underperforming schools. There is truth in what she's saying. What I don't get is when people say, "The federal government does not belong in the states' business." Last I checked, we live in one country. A single nation with shared values and shared priorities. We don't live in 50 independent political units. OF COURSE we should have shared educational objectives whether we live in Idaho or Florida. It's hard to say states should be left to their own devices on something as important as education. And we know from experience that it's generally the poorer, rural, Republican states that have the worst records on this—and, ironically, they usually get the biggest federal subsidies. Kristy says students need to master "our language, reading, math and science - they need to learn how to think." I agree. Emphasis on "our."
Kristy Ludlam Waizenegger October 17, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Hi Tony, We are the United States of America and the intent was for each state to govern itself and for the federal government to "keep the lights on". Now I totally get it that the world has changed and I get that the role of the federal government has had to evolve but I believe the federal government is overly involved in states' affairs. I believe that many federal departments, including the federal department of education, should be eliminated. I think we disagree on the role of state vs. nation but we can disagree and I appreciate the civility of your comment.

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