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School Board Candidates Take the Stage

From left, Rosemary Seaman, Tom Tesoro and Susan LaFrance.
From left, Rosemary Seaman, Tom Tesoro and Susan LaFrance.
Six Board of Education candidates put their ideas about overcrowding, Common Core, security and test scores on display at Madison Middle School recently.

The candidates who attended were Susan LaFrance, Joe Peddle, Jeff Donofrio, Tom Tesoro, Rosemary Seaman and Lainie McHugh.

Each candidate gave answers on specific topics. What follows are a few of the questions they answered. The full discussion is available to watch on Channel 17/99.

  • On portable classrooms, overcrowding, a resdency-checking officer and art-on-a-cart:

Seaman: "All of these things are linked together. Reconfiguration is something I think we should look carefully at."

Tesoro: "I don't think we have a major problem" with non-residents attending Trumbull schools. "Look and see" if there is a problem.

LaFrance: Overcrowding at Frenchtown School "really has come to a head."

Donofrio: The district should verify resident status. The first step is a space-use study. "We need to get rid of the portables."

McHugh: Centralize the registration process, but don't hire a residency officer.

Peddle: Students must periodically re-register, but no full-time residency officer. There is no short term solution but policy should be global.

  • Regarding extracurricular activities and Pay-to-Participate fees, how would you change this funding model?
Tesoro: Trumbull has the second-highest Pay-to-Participate fees in the state. "That's not a position we really want to be in." First they need to be frozen and then reduced, such as through external funding like the First Selectman's Golf Classic Tournament other outside fund-raising groups.

LaFrance: "Extracurricular activities are so important for students. "It really bonds kids to the school." One estimate several years ago said $600,000 more in the education budget could fund all the district's extracurricular activities. Perhaps the district should fund activities.

Donofrio: Achieve savings through efficiencies then apply those funds to extracurricular activities.

McHugh: It could cost $60 per household to fund extracurricular activities. It is a philosophical debate. Strike a balance between athletic and academic activity funding.

Peddle: Find out where the Pay-to-Participate fees go? Extracurricular activity funding should be consistent.

Seaman: "Everyone wants those fees reduced." The board, on which Seaman serves, will continue to explore funding methods.

  • What should the district's policy be regarding parental visitation?
Seaman: Parents are always welcome in the schools. "They are the chidren's first teachers." Parents should not be pushed out, but "security issues are a lot different than they were years ago." Security is a "two-edged sword."

Tesoro: Home and school are linked. Parent involvement is critical. "Few parents are going to disrupt the classroom."

LaFrance: The issue is between the teachers and the principals. They should work it out. "If I were a board member, it would be a very, very big concern for me." Don't diminish the parents' connection to the school.

Donofrio: Balance safety and security. "It's a very difficult balance to strike in October 2013 for obvious reasons."

McHugh: The solution lies with the superintendent of schools. "He's set out some pretty reasonable guidelines." But there are many opportunities for parents to be be involved in their child's school.

Peddle: There should be no "rampant visitation" without guidelines. But school security is a "double-edged sword."

Closing Statements

Tesoro: He is running even though it's been several years since he had children in the school system. A good education system attracts new families and improves the town. "Good education means something for everyone in this community."

LaFrance: "Change is needed." She is the parent of a fifth-grader at Frenchtown School where there is an overcrowding problem, and proposed a thorough examination of the budget by June 30 before determining how to proceed.

Donofrio: He is a lawyer who used to live in North Haven, where his wife served on the Board of Education. "Service is not an extracurricular activity," he said.
"I have no personal agenda whatsoever other than to help children get to the next level."

McHugh: She has worn many Parent-Teacher Association hats over the years. "I'm not one to settle for good enough." Trumbull schools should prepare students to compete in a global economy.

Peddle: He is a Long Hill volunteer firefighter and works at GE and was on the EMS Commission. He also coached soccer and Little League. He proposed a comprehensive capital plan, finding savings opportunities and ensuring fiscal responsibility.

Seaman: A former Trumbull school principal, Seaman has a long educational background and in her term on the school board has added staff and specialists, for educational and security benefits.

Anthony Timpanelli is also running but did not attend the forum. His candidacy letter is here. The other candidates also have letters in the government and election groups on Trumbull Patch.

lainiemchugh October 22, 2013 at 07:03 AM
This is a nice article, but the responses are not in context and not complete. Please take the time to watch the debate on channel 17 or 99 uverse starting the 24th and running through the 30th. It will be aired at 6pm.
Aaron Leo October 22, 2013 at 08:53 AM
Thanks, Lainie. If anyone wants to add something to the story, they can do so here in the comments.
Thomas Tesoro October 22, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Nice attempt but Lanie is correct. You need to watch Channel 17 (99(Uverse) to really get the responses and the thrust of the closing statements. For example, my comment on Non residents in Trumbull Schools was: I don't think we have a problem but that is my opinion. That opinion is based on the fact that all Kindergarten and 1st grade children were re-verified and only two were questioned and asked for additional documentation. So, before we spend money on a full time residency officer lets look and see if the problem exists. If not, I would rather that money go into instruction. That was the full response as best I can remember it. You can see that the full response has more to it than the quote in Patch.
Dan Luposki October 23, 2013 at 01:54 PM
Mr. Tesoro: I always appreciate your thoughtful analysis and research. You are a kid advocate and i believe you will do what’s in the best interest of our students. You are fair minded and I worry that the Mark under-ticket is doomed. Seaman and you lend much to a great school system.

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