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?
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?
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."
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.