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Cheryl Greenberg

Running for Board of Education

4 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

Party: Democrat

CEP Status:


Age: 59

Marital Status: married

Current Residence: West Hartford

Current Job: Professor of History, Trinity College

Previous Job:

Previous Job:

Education: A.B. Princeton University, 1980; MA, M Phil, PhD Columbia University (1981, 1983, 1988)

Why are you running for this office?
As a teacher, a parent and a citizen I believe the education of our children is the single most important job for our community to undertake. I hope to use my passion as well as my expertise to making sure West Hartford's public education provides every student with the opportunity to flourish. I also think that, in the current climate, the schools must model respectful dialogue, critical thinking and civic engagement, and it is critical for the Board to support this in every way. Now is the time to engage!
What is the most pressing local issue facing your community and how would you solve it (within the capacity of the office for which you are running)?
I think the most pressing issue is how to maintain a thriving, inclusive, diverse community and the strong and successful schools West Hartford is known for, in the current environment. As a community, what do we believe makes a successful learning environment for all our children, and how can we best make that happen? We have had such discussions in years of (relative) plenty; now we must have it again as we decide how to prioritize our educational programs and services if we have to move forward with diminished or no state support. I do not want to pit students against seniors, or programs for English language learners against gifted and talented programs. How can we think creatively, while supporting our excellent teachers, our innovative and effective programs, and all our students? What do we owe the next generation? This cannot be solved from above; it takes the whole community to answer these questions.
With the state's ongoing budget crisis looming over the election, what are your plans for your community's budget? Is there anything you can do make your town less dependent on revenue from the state?
Honestly, we already run a lean system -- we spend less per student than 128 of CT's 169 towns. Obviously we will have to cut more, although there is little fat left. We will also have to pursue even more aggressively all additional funding options such as more grants, even greater PTO and parent engagement, and so on. We must also find creative ways to lower town costs (as we have been doing by shifting to high deductible health care plans, for example). In the short run, we do have a bit of a cushion, as the school system and town have budgeted for some of the possible shortfall. But that cannot be a long term solution. In any case, to be completely honest, if we lose full state funding this year, it is hard to imagine how to make that up. The good news is, we have powerful and effective representatives at the state level, and West Hartford is not the only town facing such challenges (although we would take the largest hit). I have to believe that, in concert with others, we will find some way to avoid the harshest outcome.
The legislature has been debating various ideas to allow towns to raise revenue locally through something other than property taxes. If you could ease your residents' property tax burden by adding another method of taxation, is there anything you might consider for your town?
Luckily for me, the Board cannot speak to this issue!
Are you in favor of regionalizing more services in conjunction with other nearby communities? If so, which ones?
To speak only of education issues, we have already regionalized where we could. Primarily, however, regionalization benefits small communities who can combine services. Our district is so large that it is a region by itself! In other words, we already save money because we are a large system. We have streamlined in a different way, by combining many core services with the town (such as building space, some purchasing, utilities, etc.), which is why our per-pupil spending is already quite low. But certainly if there were particular areas in which sharing resources with other communities would benefit us, I would support it!
Should your school district get the same amount of education funding from the state if your district's enrollment is dropping?
That is a complicated question, as number of students is only one factor in funding allocation. So, for example, communities with higher populations receiving free or reduced lunch receive more funding (as they should), communities are reimbursed after spending a certain amount on special needs education services (as they should be), and so on. Also, small enrollment changes will not dramatically affect costs because (say) classes of 20 rather than 22 still need the same number of teachers. But holding everything else equal, given significant enrollment declines, state funding would drop accordingly.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I am an unrepentant chocoholic.