Candidate profiles: Region 16 Board of Education

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Region-16
The Citizen’s News asked candidates running for office four questions. The following are their responses.

Beacon Falls

Christine M. Arnold

Age: 

Party: Republican

Occupation: Social worker

Past political posts: None

Christine M. Arnold
Christine M. Arnold

Why are you running for Board of Education? 

“I’m running for the Board of Education because I care about the best interests of the students in Region 16. I have dedicated my career to helping children and if elected will advocate for the students in my town.”

What can be done to improve/increase student achievement in Region 16?

“I believe it is important to keep the class sizes smaller so that teachers can more effectively address the individual needs of the students under their care.”

How will you balance the needs of students with the needs of taxpayers come budget time?

“No one wants their taxes to go up, so it is important to prioritize student needs and make informed decisions regarding the budget.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing Region 16 students today, and how will you address it?

“I am concerned about alleged substance use among students at the high school and the mental health needs of students in this area. I will support programs and initiatives that address these areas.”

Sheryl Feducia
Sheryl Feducia

Sheryl Feducia                                  

Age: 47

Party: Democrat

Occupation: Social worker, Department of Social Services

Past political posts: Board of Education (14 years)

Why are you running for Board of Education?

“I’m running for re-election for the Board of Education for many reasons. I truly feel the children need positive advocates for their school-age years. A person who believes they come first. The tax-paying public also needs someone who is fiscally responsible. Each and every year I question line item after line item. There are very hard decisions that have to be made, and I pride myself in initiating that decision making process. Also, I’ve been able to work well with all staff members, including current and former administrators. This key component is important in being able to work through the process of educating our kids.”

What can be done to improve/increase student achievement in Region 16?

“We’ve hired a new, full-time curriculum coordinator recently. This is a step in the right direction in solidifying a full pre-k though 12 educational system. We have to follow the state standards, but always raising the bar a little higher. Region 16 has great staff, with great vision. We have to make sure we continue to tap into that resource. We have to never settle for just making the acceptable grade.”

How will you balance the needs of students with the needs of taxpayers come             budget time?

“Each year the budget is looked at line by line. Just because a line item was there one year, doesn’t mean it’s needed, or the same amount is needed, the next year. As a board member I make sure the students have the supplies they need to successfully learn. That includes everything from paper and pencils, to technology, to bathroom supplies and safe playground equipment, just to name a few. And of course, we need our exemplary staff. The board does due diligence to make sure the students receive what they need for the best price. Our administrators come to the budget table each year with their ‘wish lists.’ Then, we get down to reality. I believe on bringing the most complete budget and the lowest price. I, along with my friends and family, are taxpayers too. We have to be respectful of the economic times; therefore, we have to make the tough decisions for all parties involved.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing Region 16 students today, and how will you address it?

“This current generation of students is being asked to grow up so much faster than     when I was a student in Region 16. The educational demands, together with social media, make it much more difficult to be a child that is in school to learn and just be a kid. We have to find a balance of increasing our standards, without forgetting about the individual student. Each student learns different from the next. Our staff uses differentiated instruction to make sure the academic needs are met, but staff also need to be aware of how the students interact with each other.”

Susan Ploss
Susan Ploss

Susan Ploss

Age: 47

Party: Republican

Occupation: Medical transcriptionist and executive secretary

Past political posts: Republican Town Committee secretary

Why are you running for Board of Education?

“I believe I have the right combination of skills and knowledge needed on the Board of Education at this time of change in Region 16.”

What can be done to improve/increase student achievement in Region 16?

“First, I believe we need to focus on fundamentals. Secondly, we need to hold teachers and administrators accountable for the tax dollars they are spending.”

How will you balance the needs of students with the needs of taxpayers come budget time?

“Design and deliver on metrics that show definitely successful students, ensuring a return on the taxpayers’ investment. Also, work to hold down costs through use of technology and limiting scholastic choices to what is fundamentally needed to prepare students for life application.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing Region 16 students today, and how will you address it?

“Today’s students are facing a job market driven by rapidly changing technology and employers seeking problem solving thinkers. We need to ensure our students are trained to think not just to take a test. I am committed to seeing the changes needed to make this happen.”

Dave Rybinski
Dave Rybinski

Dave Rybinski

Age: 56

Party: Democrat

Occupation: Service manager

Past political posts: Past fire chief, past chairman Energy Board

Why are you running for Board of Education?

“To ensure fiscal responsibility.”

What can be done to improve/increase student achievement in Region 16?

“Communication between faculty, students and parents.”

How will you balance the needs of students with the needs of taxpayers come budget time?

“Prioritize needs, enable and adhere to short- and long-term plans.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing Region 16 students today, and how will you address it?

“Getting students ready for the workplace. Initiate programs to involve students to participate in diversified work related situations”

Prospect

Editor’s note: Larry Fitzgerald and Roxann Vaillancourt are running for a two-year term to fill a vacancy. Robert Hiscox and Nazih Noujaim are running unopposed.

Larry Fitzgerald
Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald

Age: 62

Party: Democrat

Occupation: Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. Presently a catholic school principal

Past Political Posts:  Current chairman of Board of Recreation. Former member of the Prospect Emergency Management Advisory Council.

Why are you running for Board of Education? 

“Over the next several years Region 16 will be building a new elementary school in Prospect, making renovations to Laurel Ledge School in Beacon Falls, and upgrading security at all schools to protect students and staff. I am running for the Board of Education in order to be involved in the decision-making process on these and many other issues confronting Region 16. I want to call upon my career as a military officer with experience in training, operations and security and as a school administrator heavily involved with school security and building management to assist the Region 16 Board of Education in moving forward with these projects and help make decisions that will be in the best interest of Region 16 and the taxpayers of Prospect and Beacon Falls.”

What can be done to improve/increase student achievement in Region 16?

“To improve/increase student achievement in Region 16 we must continue to recruit and retain great teachers and administrators. We need to identify and build future leaders from within our school system and be able to retain these leaders who have come up through our teaching ranks and who have a vested interest in improving Region 16. Our region test scores on the CMT and CAPT indicate that the region does a good job regarding student achievement. There is always room for improvement. We must look at moving to all day kindergarten and building upon the pre-k program. We must continue to review curriculum and standards to ensure that Region 16 students are ready to succeed in the 21st century.”

How will you balance the needs of students with the needs of taxpayers come budget time?

“The toughest job the Board of Education has is the requirement to establish an accredited, successful school system with great programs and balance that with the needs of taxpayers. It is never an easy task. Having a great school system with great teachers and programs to include extracurricular activities costs a lot of money. We need to communicate to the taxpayers the benefits of having a great school system and what that means to our students.  In order to have students who are prepared to be successful members of society and the work force in the 21st century we need to continuously upgrade technology, maintain and improve the programs we have presently in our schools, and maintain great teachers and administrators. In order to balance this with the needs of taxpayers we must spend money wisely; what gives us the biggest bang for the buck. We must prioritize the needs of Region 16 and be able to research and look at bringing in grant money to offset the cost of operating a first class school system. We need to be able to look at all aspects of operation to see if there is a better way to do business.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing Region 16 students today, and how will you address it?

“I feel the most important issue facing Region 16 students today is being able to improve achievement. We have a good school system. How do we make it great? This issue must be addressed by giving all students the support they need to be successful. This support includes a rigorous and challenging curriculum, updated technology, best practices being used by classroom teachers and strong leadership. I will work to ensure that this support system is in place for our students. I will work to support our teachers and administrators in order for them to give our students the education they deserve.”

Roxy Vaillancourt
Roxy Vaillancourt

Roxy Vaillancourt

Age: 59

Party: Republican

Occupation: Finance/Accounting

Past political posts: None

Why are you running for Board of Education?

“I am new to Prospect and want to give back to my Community. I can bring to the table my experience in finance/accounting and logic thinking. I am also a single mother of three daughters and although they are all (finally) out of college, I know every student is unique with their own special needs to success in school. I now have time and energy to get involved on a local level. I look forward to the commitment.”

What can be done to improve/increase student achievement in Region 16?

“The continued pursuit of employing caring and dedicated teachers and administrators. Also by making all accountable for each and every student. We are on the right track investing in our students by providing state of the art schools and technology for learning.”

How will you balance the needs of students with the needs of taxpayers come budget time?

“Since I am a numbers person, it seems reasonable that you establish various budget scenarios. These scenarios will be based on collaborated recommendations backed by research and facts. Prioritizing students present and future needs. The key is educating our taxpayers with as much information so they understand.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing Region 16 students today, and how will you address it?

“This is a difficult to answer. I don’t think there is ‘one’ important issue. I don’t have a personal agenda. Some of the issues that come to mind are: security/safety of all students and administrators; empowering our students for our rapidly growing global economy by supplying them with state-of-the-art technology and equipment; maintaining arts/music/sports for all students to participate; addressing/providing programs for special leaning needs; testing and evaluating learning curriculum.

Robert Hiscox
Robert Hiscox

Robert Hiscox

Age: 63

Party: Republican

Occupation: Retired science teacher 38 years

Past political posts: Chairman Republican Town Committee; Chairman Inland Wetland Committee; Chairman Planning and Zoning Commission; Justice of Peace; Founder Prospect Flag Fund; Region 16 Board of Education

Why are you running for Board of Education? 

“I believe that my background, over 40 years in public education, allows me to give back to the town and our children a level of expertise that will provide Region 16 students with the best and most affordable educational opportunities as they prepare to enter adulthood as productive citizens.”

What can be done to improve/increase student achievement in Region 16? 

“Our current efforts to align curriculum with state and national standards, along with the dedication of our professional and support staff are moving us in the right direction. The opening of a new state-of-the-art elementary school along with additional system-wide updates in technology are in the final stages of development. These changes will provide additional enhanced individual opportunities for students and will greatly improve the system and increase overall student achievement.”

How will you balance the needs of students with the needs of taxpayers come budget time?

“Managing the budget is always tricky. It is important to look at where our tax dollars are going on a regular basis, not just at budget time. Providing students with a safe, well equipped and appropriately staffed learning environment is a top priority. We must constantly look at the cost effectiveness and educational value of each dollar spent and not be afraid to ask tough questions and make appropriate changes as needed.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing Region 16 students today, and how will you address it? 

“Our ever-changing economy and global relationships, along with the rapid increase in technology, will provide the next generation with many social and educational challenges. We must consistently monitor our educational programming preK-12 and make appropriate adjustments. I will consistently look for programs that strengthen parent-student-school communications to insure that we are meeting the needs of individual students in the most cost effective manner.”

Nazih Noujaim
Nazih Noujaim

Nazih G. Noujaim

Age: 49

Party: Republican

Occupation: Software Engineer, 3M Corporation; Insurance agent (Part Time)

Past political posts: Current Zoning Board of Appeals (Alternate); Region 16 Board of Education

Why are you running for Board of Education? 

“It has been a great joy to be able to give back to the community by being a member of the Board of Education. I chose to run again to continue to provide the students with the best education possible and to get them ready to meet the challenges that they will face in their future educational and career endeavors.”

What can be done to improve/increase student achievement in Region 16?

“Region 16 has seen great scores and improvements. Together, the Region 16 staff and parents need to continue working together to assist the children in meeting the challenges they face. Parental involvement, as well as the children understanding the important roles they themselves play in their own educations, will remain one of the most positive ways of improving and increasing student achievement.”

How will you balance the needs of students with the needs of taxpayers come budget time?

“We all know how tough the economy is on everyone. We need to continue with a balance so that we don’t overburden the taxpayers while still providing the kids with the best education possible. We have mandates that we have to meet and we need to maintain our facilities. We can do this by keeping a watchful eye on programs and expenses and cutting wasteful spending. I would also like to continue to see that administrators and staff are getting rewarded for their accomplishments.”

What do you feel is the most important issue facing Region 16 students today, and how will you address it?

“There are many issues affecting students today. The economy has an indirect effect, and most of that is beyond our immediate control. A challenge that we can meet is ensuring that our high school graduating classes are college-ready and know what is expected of them in college. The Region 16 staff and board have done a great job thus far, but we need to shoot for the stars and set a goal of a 100 percent college graduation rate. I would address the issue by working with our staff to emphasize the expectations of college or the workforce, and the expectation that the students can rise to these challenges.”