Facebook a catalyst for BOE unrest

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NAUGATUCK — Social media sites like Facebook have proven to be not only a way for old friends to reconnect or current ones to stay in touch but also a forum for organization and a meeting place for people to rally around a common cause, share information, and schedule events.

And the biggest controversy in the borough right now, the Board of Education’s budget crisis, has spurred action from members of the online community, who have assembled in force a Facebook group entitled “Our Kids Come First: Protecting Naugatuck’s Schoolchildren.”

The group was formed in response to Superintendant of Schools Dr. John Tindall-Gibson’s proposal last Monday to close the budget gap by not only cutting teaching staff but also by cutting the school day, axing some music and art programs, and collapsing the freshman athletics program.

The new group has garnered over 600 members in the five days since its inception.
The new group has garnered over 600 members in the five days since its inception.

The group’s description reads, “Our children’s public school education should not be compromised due to the lack of leadership and poor management of the Naugatuck Board of Education. This is unacceptable to us as parents, taxpayers, residents and a community. … Education is the driving engine of a community, and we need to be in the driver’s seat!”

In just five days since Anne Ciacciarella, Second Deputy Mayor Mike Ciacciarella’s wife, formed the group, more than 600 people have joined.

Links to news stories surrounding the controversy are provided, and the group’s “wall,” which functions like a traditional Internet message board, is littered with messages from residents, most of whom feel their kids would be cheated if Tindall-Gibson’s proposal works its way through the Board of Education and into the school system’s infrastructure.

The group is organizing a rally at the Nov. 23 special meeting of the board, where members will “show support, hold signs and stand united against this proposal.”

Though public comment will not be part of that meeting, the event description contends that “actions are louder than words. We may not be able to speak, but we will be heard.”

“I attended the Monday night tri-board meeting and was dismayed at the lack of leadership and the obvious gross mismanagement of a $56 million dollar budget and how my children’s education would now be compromised as a result,” Ciacciarella wrote in an e-mail to Citizen’s News. “I was upset as a parent and as a taxpayer. … I felt powerless and did not have an answer until it woke me up in the middle of the night. The first step was to organize Our Kids Come First, which was launched Tuesday morning.”

Ciacciarella hopes the group will garner enough support and create enough leverage to make sure Tindall-Gibson’s proposal doesn’t see the light of day.