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Deb Polun

4 CTNewsJunkie Reader Endorsements

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Party: Democrat

CEP Status:

Website: www.whdemocrats.org

Age: 44

Marital Status: Married

Current Residence: West Hartford

Current Job: Sr. Director for Policy & Outreach - Community Health Center Association of CT

Previous Job: Legislative Director - CT Commission on Aging

Previous Job: Senior Policy Analyst - Senate Democrats' Office, CT General Assembly

Education: MA, Social Psychology - UConn; BS, Psychology & Sociology - Tulane University

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whdemsforgreatschools/

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Why are you running for this office?
After almost twenty years of public policy and advocacy experience, as well as voter education efforts, I am excited to run for the West Hartford Board of Education. My husband and I moved to West Hartford in 1999, in great part, because of the high quality schools. Our two children have attended Aiken Elementary, King Philip Middle and Hall High School; Jordan is a 2016 Hall graduate, and Megan is a Junior at Hall. My priorities for the Board of Education are: 1) maintaining critical programs; 2) integrating health and wellness into the school day; and 3) promoting civic engagement among students, their families and the broader community. I want to be sure that young families are still choosing West Hartford for its schools in three years, in ten years - in twenty years! I am eager to bring my experience working in state government and in a nonprofit to the West Hartford Board of Education.
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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)?
West Hartford's schools are among its greatest assets and continue to be one of the top reasons people move to town. No doubt, budgetary challenges will continue to dominate for the next several years. That's why it is so important to have people at the table who will think creatively to preserve critical programming. I will seek to enhance partnerships with community-based organizations and local colleges/universities, as part of the solution to maintain certain programs that make West Hartford schools so special.
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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?
First, we must continue to work with our legislative delegation and the Governor's office to ensure that West Hartford receives the funding it deserves. West Hartford should not be punished for having sound fiscal management; we are already using funding more efficiently than almost any school system in the state - ranking 128th in per pupil education spending, while maintaining high rankings in every educational outcome. Maintaining high quality schools will preserve home values as well, benefiting community members with and without children. Partnerships with businesses, community-based organizations and institutions of higher education may yield innovative solutions that do not rely on additional taxpayer funding.
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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?
The Board of Education does not have a say in local taxation. I support strengthening partnerships with local organizations that might provide "people resources" and/or funding to preserve programs that are at-risk.
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Are you in favor of regionalizing more services in conjunction with other nearby communities? If so, which ones?
West Hartford has already consolidated core services with the town and schools, which has produced savings. Regional cooperation might make sense for certain services and purchases, as long as we do not compromise our priorities for West Hartford's children and families. For example, we should explore bulk purchases of school/office supplies, books and, potentially, transportation contracting.
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Should your school district get the same amount of education funding from the state if your district's enrollment is dropping?
Small year-to-year enrollment reductions should not impact state funding. I would be in favor of examining school enrollment every 5 or 10 years, to get a clearer picture of enrollment trends, and using that information as one piece of the state education funding puzzle.
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What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I laugh out loud before I fall asleep at night (and sometimes while I'm sleeping).