Should your school district get the same amount of education funding from the state if your district's enrollment is dropping?
I think our current administration and board of education has consistently given the town a fiscally lean and responsible budget. Less state funding either translates into a heavier burden on our local tax base or less services for the children of our town.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I love to Salsa dance.
Why are you running for this office?
As a local business owner, father to three children, and lifelong resident of Stonington, I am convinced that the Stonington Public School system is strategically poised to be one of the top school districts in the state. Over the next few years, the board of education will have to make some difficult decisions, and I would like to be a part of the those discussions. With declining enrollments and uncertain state budgets, I would like to help navigate our schools through these challenges and make sure that we stay focused on providing students with an inspirational and innovative classroom experience.
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)?
Declining enrollment and a potential reduction in state funding for our school system are two pressing issues. I would suggest as a board member that we conduct a system wide review of all of the services and programs that are currently being provided by Stonington Public Schools. When and if difficult decisions need to be made, I would always refer to the board’s mission statement as a guiding hand in the process.
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?
Stonington has some unique opportunities to expand classroom and learning opportunities while also bringing costs down. Places like the Mystic Seaport, NEES, and the Mystic Aquarium could potentially be tapped into to enhance children’s learning and presumably share teaching expenses. Stonington is starting to make some connections with these organizations, but I believe much more can be done. It could potentially make a significant positive impact for the school system, provide hands on learning, and provide for cost sharing.
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?
Are you in favor of regionalizing more services in conjunction with other nearby communities? If so, which ones?
I believe that there are some positive and negative consequences to the regionalization of our schools. Special education services can have a tremendous impact on a local town school budget. Two or three students who require extra services can drastically change the school budget. In this case, I think that having a centralized location in our region would be beneficial to these students in terms of quality of service, and it may also be at a lower cost to the town. Also a regional school may be able to offer a more diverse curriculum and additional extra curricular activities. On the other hand, regionalization would mean that our town would lose some control over decisions that would directly impact the children of Stonington. Decisions about curriculum and where money is spent within the school system would be made by a larger, regionalized board of education. We still have many questions regarding the impact of these decisions. Analyzing
other regional districts within our state may be a way to see if this is right for our town.
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