Candidate profiles: Naugatuck BOE

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The Citizen’s News asked candidates running for office four questions. The following are the responses from candidates running for Board of Education in Naugatuck:

Jason L. Celozzi
Jason L. Celozzi

Jason L. Celozzi

Age: 39

Party: Democrat

Education: Bachelor’s of Science degree, Educational Certification, University of Connecticut and Southern Connecticut State University.

Political Experience: Two terms Principal’s Advisory Committee, Waterbury Arts Magnet School.

Occupation: Business Development Manager CT Territory; Progenity in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Why are you running for school board?

“My primary reasoning for running is a put-up-or-shut-up mentality. I don’t want to be a resident with opinions about our educational program and its effect on taxes and not do anything about it.  I want to put in effort to make improvements.”

What can be done to improve education in the district?

“There is a need to improve math and reading comprehension scores in the district. I would like to explore possible grant and internal staff develop opportunities to improve these scores.”

How would you approach crafting a school budget?

“My goal when crafting or modifying a school budget is to access effectiveness of current and previous plans. Ultimately determining opportunity to reduce unnecessary or outdated programs and provide a quality education and readiness program.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing students today? What should be done to address it?

“The most important issues facing our students is being prepared for the next level of their education or stage in life. How we address this issue is initially providing a safe and healthy educational environment. Next is allow for the administration and staff to have the necessary tools and programs in place so they may effectively utilize the skills and passions that inspired their careers in education.”

Glenn P. Connan
Glenn P. Connan

Glenn P. Connan

Age: 39

Party: Republican

Education: MBA and Bachelors of Science Accounting, Fairfield University

Political Experience: Board of Education, two terms.

Occupation: Chief Financial Officer

Why are you running for school board?

“I have three kids in Naugatuck schools. I want to make our schools great for them and all our students.”

What can be done to improve education in the district? 

“First, we need to end the practice of social promotion, especially at City Hill, it is ridiculous a student could fail all their classes and still move up to the next grade level, trust me it catches up to them when they get to high school. If we have high expectations of our students we will have high results, low expectations low results so we need to quite simply raise expectations. Secondly, but just as ridiculous, the high school currently starts at 7:20 a.m., which means we have kids up as early as 5:30 a.m. to be on busses at 6:30 a.m. The cheapest, but most effective thing we can do to improve academic performance at the high school is simply to have the high school start later (between 8:30and 9 a.m.). Third, we need to go after grants to put air conditioning in our schools. We only have 180 days of school, we need to maximize instructional time. Quite simply our kids are not learning when it is hot and uncomfortable in the classroom.”

How would you approach crafting a school budget?

“We need to craft a bottom-up budget that is responsible and maximizes the benefit of every dollar. Taxpayers are fed up and rightly so, I was criticized when as a BOE member I voted against the 2014-15 BOE budget because it was too high, but I was proven right as we ended the 2014-15 school year with just under a million dollar surplus. We owe it to our students and taxpayers to get it right.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing students today? What should be done to address it?

“Our students spend too much time taking standardized tests. Over testing is rampant and needs to stop, we have great teachers we have to let them just teach so our students can learn. Also Common Core math is garbage and should be thrown away.”

Ethel S. Grant
Ethel S. Grant

Ethel S. Grant

Age:

Party: Democrat

Education: BS, Education; Central Connecticut State University, MS, Education; Southern Connecticut State University

Political Experience: Two years Naugatuck Board of Education

Occupation: Retired teacher

Why are you running for school board?

“With a better understanding of the people and workings of the BOE, and a shared enthusiasm and optimism with our new superintendent and her team for the district’s educational advancement, I would like to continue to serve for the next term. To be a witness, to help guide and to take pride in the expected educational advancements of our students.”

What can be done to improve education in the district?

“Probably the biggest improvement would be to encourage more parents to become involved with their child’s school, especially at the upper school levels. We have some very active parent groups; we need all of our schools to have parental groups. Parents are great advocates for their children.”

How would you approach crafting a school budget? 

“A school budget should be crafted with the mission of delivering a quality education. This is the expectation of our students and their families and their right to expect this will happen. I would do just what is presently being done — meet, discuss, listen and confer with those who have been entrusted to carry out the mission — keeping in mind the concerns of parents.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing students today? What should be done to address it?

“Having the skills for success in an ever changing world. Starting early and reinforced throughout the educational career, academic emphasis should be given to problem solving, creative thinking, adapting to situations and people. Addressed with BOE strategic planning and academic implementation in the classroom through meaningful academics and positive interactions with those within the school community.”

David Heller
David M. Heller

David M. Heller

Age: 56

Party: Democrat

Political Experience: Naugatuck Board of Education 2005-15( Zive terms)

Education: BA History: Holy Cross College, Worcester, MA. 1981; JD: Pace University School of Law, White Plains, NY 1984.

Occupation: Trial Attorney for Nationwide Insurance.

Why are you running for school board?

“I am running for re-election to the Board of Education in order to continue to serve the students and families of Naugatuck. My three children all attended Naugatuck schools and graduated from Naugatuck High School and were admitted to and graduated from the colleges of their choice. During my service on the board, I have always strived to provide the same opportunities to the children of our community that my children received. We have a wonderful school system in Naugatuck and I look forward to supporting our superintendent and her outstanding staff for another two years.”

What can be done to improve education in the district?

“The leadership and the staff of the Naugatuck school system arrive at work each day prepared to help the children of Naugatuck become better students and citizens. It is the Board of Education’s role to support and promote academic improvement and achievement for our children by formulating and enforcing policies that support the education of all students. As a board member, I can best improve education in our community by working with my fellow board members and the entire Naugatuck community to be an advocate for our educational system.”

How would you approach crafting a school budget? 

“The best way to craft and formulate the budget in Naugatuck is to continue to utilize the method and manner that Superintendent Sharon Locke and her administrative leadership team did to formulate the budget for 2015-16. This year for the first time, the educational budget was built from the ground up and was developed as a student-based budget and was built based upon the needs of each student and the individual schools that they attend. I would recommend that next year’s school budget be constructed in the same way and that the entire Naugatuck community be encouraged to participate in the budget building process.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing students today? What should be done to address it?

“The most important issue facing the students of Naugatuck today is the rapidly changing and evolving educational system that they are a part of. Classrooms today are nothing like the classrooms that I sat in when I was a student. Technology is changing the way students learn on a daily basis. Here in Naugatuck, we need to continue to expand the opportunities for our students to be exposed to new teaching methods and opportunities. We need to provide our students with every opportunity to be global learners. While at the same time we need our teachers to continue to touch and inspire the lives of our students on a daily basis through personal and individual attention and contact with our students and their families. We need to continue to strive to make our schools places where our students and their families feel welcome and at home.”

Dorothy G. Neth-Kunin
Dorothy G. Neth-Kunin

Dorothy G. Neth-Kunin

Age: 55

Party: Republican

Education: Master’s in management and bachelor’s degree in finance, Central Connecticut State University.

Political Experience: Two terms Vice Chair Naugatuck Board of Education

Occupation:  Large Group Senior Underwriting Consultant; Aetna, Inc. Hartford

Why are you running for school board?

“As a member of the community I am running for Board of Education for many reasons a few stand-out: 1) To serve as an advocate for public education within our community. 2) To assist in offering a quality education to all children in our community where we are educating all children today for tomorrow’s future. 3) Work towards financial accountability through a positive school-community partnership.”

What can be done to improve education in the district? 

1) Identifying the needs of all children regardless of their abilities or backgrounds. 2) Respect diverse points of view. 3) Increase community involvement through increased parental partnering. 4) Increase community involvement at all school levels through student, school, community partnering. 5) Provide parents with the tools to understand what children are learning and a guide to help them at home.”

How would you approach crafting a school budget? 

“It has always been a request of mine to begin crafting a budget by school; the 2015-2016 budget has begun this process. This has been the most transparent budget ever released to the joint boards and the community. It is the goal of the Finance Committee to continue to streamline the budget and create greater levels of transparency. Presently the budget is available by school by line item on the Board of Education website and is available to everyone for review. If anyone has questions all they need to do is ask.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing students today? How would you address it?

“The ability to fit in and be accepted for who they are. Struggling with one’s own identity and how they are supposed to relate to what is expected of them versus what they expect of themselves. What should be done to address it? The addition of Youth Services has begun the process of addressing youth issues and creating a bridge to community involvement. Engaging youth in community activities and getting involved in the community provides a sense of belonging. Youth Services will explore ways to bring all students together regardless of beliefs, abilities, and/or background and will aid in developing a greater level of tolerance. Provide support and guidance to all students regardless of need and promote a positive environment for all kids to learn in. Create peer to peer groups for students. Continue programs that are working and revisit programs that have not been successful to see where changes are needed.”

Eileen Lingl
Eileen Lingl

Eileen Lingl

Age: 55

Party: Republican

Education: High school and college business courses.

Political experience: Vice President and President of Salem School PSA; Member of Parent Student Council.

Occupation: Vehicle buy back agent and product demonstrator.

Why are you running for school board?

“I’m running for the Board of Education because I have children in our schools, and I know many children, families and staff at our schools. I feel that I can be a vital part of the BOE and will be able to effectively help the children and families, which is what it’s all about.”

What can be done to improve education in the district? 

“Encourage parents to be more active in their children’s education, and to build strong relationships with district leaders.”

How would you approach crafting a school budget? 

“Develop a more strategic financial plan for the next three to five years.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing students today? How would you address it?

“I know that there are many children who receive free lunches. I have personally heard of many of those children who are unable to finish their lunch because of long lines. There needs to be a better system, and a slightly longer lunch period, so those children get to finish. For some, the free breakfast and lunch is all they might get that day.”

Jill Mahoney
Jill Mahoney

Jill Mahoney

Age: 48

Party: Democrat

Education: Early Childhood Education/Child Advocacy, Family Development Credential- University of Connecticut; currently pursuing degree in child/family counseling.

Political Experience:  None.

Occupation: Director of Naugatuck Partnership for Children.

Why are you running for school board?

“I have been fortunate to work with children and their families all my professional life. I believe that the school board needs an active listener not only for our parents and guardians, but also for our students. I believe that all students should be empowered to take a lead in their education and have a voice in the process. I am running for a seat on the Naugatuck Board of Education to bring family and student perspective to our education system.”

What can be done to improve education in the district?

“I strongly believe that every person that comes in contact with our school children should empower our students to believe in themselves, encourage them to be educational risk takers so they can feel good going to school every day. With the high standards that are placed on our students with assessments and testing, our students will succeed when all adults that come in contact with them invest in their emotional and educational goals.”

How would you approach crafting a school budget? 

“I believe under the direction of Superintendent Sharon Locke, our district put the needs of our students first in our last budget process. I believe that if we continue to craft our budget with a student-based focus and transparency, we will be able to meet students where they are and continue to improve our student learning.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing students today?  What should be done to address it?

“I feel that the most important issue facing students today is meeting their individual needs in this ever-changing society. Our students need to be the priority and focus whether they need extra support or we need to widen their horizon with new challenges. Our students need to be exposed to new experiences to broaden their knowledge base and incorporate 21st century skills whenever possible. I believe that all students learn in their own unique way and we as the school district need to support our students in more than their core subjects by incorporating new and exciting electives for student learning starting in elementary school.”

Diana Malone
Diana V. Malone

Diana V. Malone

Age: 60

Party: Republican

Education: Associate’s degree in early child hood education.

Political experience: Two terms on the Board of Education

Occupation: Retired.

Why are you running for school board?

“I am running for re-election to the Board of Education because there is a lot more work to be done. Now that we have a new superintendent we are moving forward ‘educating all students today for tomorrow’s future.’ I have always put the students first, and I will continue to do so. I have lived in Naugatuck for the past 34 years and graduated from Naugatuck High School.”

What can be done to improve education in the district?

“Parents want to be involved. We can do a lot to encourage at-home involvement, with outreach, parent training, and activities designed to engage family support. There are retired teachers who also would like to be involved with the children. As well as many people in the community. We can use parents, retired teachers, and community volunteers to work with our students in the classroom to give students that needed extra help to catch up with the rest of the class; one or two hours a week can go a long way in a child’s life.”

How would you approach crafting a school budget?

“I too am a taxpayer in Naugatuck. Both my husband and I are disabled and on a fixed income. We all live in a tight economy. I would like to see what teachers feel they need in the classroom, and parents and students feel is important. I feel we need to aggressively seek out grants. We need to keep our budget as low as possible, but at the same time give our students the tools they need to be successful. When they graduate from high school they need to be responsible and engaged community members.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing students today? What should be done to address it?

“They need to learn how to develop healthy relationships, and how not to cave in to inappropriate peer pressure. They need to learn self-control and social skills. They should graduate motivated, feeling good about themselves, and ready to conquer the world. They should have a vision in goal setting, personally and professionally. There is a teen leadership class at the high school which will help with these issues and much more. Unfortunately it is not available to all students who want to take it. I would like to see this class as a requirement for graduation. At the least I would like to see it available to all students who want to take it.”

James Scully
James Scully

James Scully

Age: 66

Party: Democrat

Political experience: Board of Education, eight years; the Charter Revision Committee; Democratic Town Committee.

Education: One year of college

Occupation: Carpenter

Why are you running for school board?

“For the betterment of the children.”

What can be done to improve education in the district?

“To get Hartford and Washington, D.C. to understand what the limitations of the towns are such as we can’t afford all these mandates they aren’t funding.”

How would you approach crafting a school budget?

“The way we have been doing it for the past couple of years: by the number of students and what we have to do for them.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing student today? What should be done to address it?

“Everybody wants them to get the best education they possibly can. The students have got to understand they need to start judging where they are going in life and fit their education around that somehow.”

Scott Slauson
Scott Slauson

Scott Slauson

Age: 49

Party: Republican

Political experience: Current Secretary for the Board of Education four and half years, Current member of Technology Commission.

Occupation: Software Engineer

Why are you running for school board?

“I’m a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and have served in local, state and national levels in the Marine Corps League, and Porsche Club of America. I’m also a long standing member of the American Legion and Marine Corps Association. I have put many years of volunteer service into all of these organizations. My wife April and I have two children, Mitchell that just graduated Naugatuck High School and is going to college in Germany. This opportunity was offered in cooperation with the Naugatuck Rotary in their exchange student program that helped in Mitchell’s foundation of the German language and his junior school year in Germany. Our other son, Luke, attends Naugatuck High. I have served on the Board of Education for the past four and a half years. I now serve as the secretary. I have also been the Policy Committee chair, served on the finance and facilities committees for four and a half years. We have accomplished much in instituting savings by combining the municipality and Board of Education in many functions, including attorneys, business manager and HR director and other non-personnel matters. I have been involved on contract negotiations and believe that these have to be fair not only to the bargaining group, yet also to the district and taxpayers. We have also continued on some large projects, such as the Naugatuck High renovation and security upgrades to existing schools that are still ongoing.”

What can be done to improve education in the district?

“Student achievement has been directly tied to one factor, a knowledgeable and skillful teacher, by many studies. The Naugatuck school district has as a majority of these teachers, however they are ever more inundated with state and federal compliances that tend to hinder open and creative teaching. I believe that expanding and in certain areas further redefining our curriculum can achieve this.”

How would you approach crafting a school budget?

“The school budget in the past was done differently. The budget now is addressed to the needs of the students and compiled so that it is easily understood and transparent. The BOE works in conjunction with the superintendent and staff to form a budget that is to further the students’ growth and potential, yet mindful to Naugatuck residents.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing student today? What should be done to address it?

“From elementary students to high school students they all face different challenges or issues. These can and may not be all inclusive to: peer presser, bullying, drugs, time management and others. I think these are all important and have to be addressed in a meaningful way that helps all students. Our students are our children and from youngsters to adults they will face many of these issues and should be considered the ‘most important issue’ to address.”

1 COMMENT

  1. VOTE OUT OUR 46 MILL RATE INCUMBANTS…

    -BOE-
    Glennn Connan
    David Heller
    Dorothy Neth-Kunin
    James Scully
    Scott Slauson

    …they got us to this 46 Mill Rate!