Meet the candidates for Manchester BOE

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Fri., Oct. 18, 2013
- Contributed Photo

The ReminderNews kicks off its election coverage with a preview of candidates for the Board of Education.  Next week's issue will include a report from the Board of Directors debate on Tuesday, Oct. 22, which is moderated in part by ReminderNews editor Joan Hunt.

Candidates from both parties were asked the same two questions:
• What is the biggest issue facing the Board of Education?
• Why are you qualified to be a member of the Board of Education?

Ron Atwater (R) Incumbent

The most important issue facing the Board of Education is the achievement gap and redevelopment of community/ parental involvement and trust. The triangular method of teacher/student/parent needs to be reestablished.  

I am presently a member of the board of education and acquiring the experience and knowledge needed to be an effective board member. I served as the co-chairperson for the Manchester Human Relations committee and co-president of the Board of Directors Manchester National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). I'm a graduate of the Manchester Neighborhood Academy Leadership Program and Manchester Citizens Police Academy.  I served as a literacy volunteer and volunteer in CT Department of Corrections Chaplaincy Department and as a group facilitator/teacher for family intervention and addictive disorders in adults and youth in my church’s addictive disorder program.

Deborah Hagenow (R) Incumbent

My concern is that test results reveal Manchester students are not doing well academically. I want to see ALL Manchester children  graduate college and be career ready.

I am committed to supporting teachers and staff, providing students with the tools they need and emphasizing parent involvement is significant to their children's success.

As a community, we need to realize that children are the future and we need to be willing to work together to achieve our goal!

Mary-Jane Pazda (R)

What is the biggest issue facing BOE?  The simple answer is student achievement and academic excellence.  This election provides the opportunity to bring student achievement and learning growth to the forefront of the work that is done in our schools. Ensuring success for all students requires clear goals, a shared vision and a welcoming climate of partnership with all stakeholders both directly and indirectly affiliated with our schools. 

This election is about Manchester’s future -- a quality education that leads to a quality life with graduates who want to return to Manchester and raise their families.  Education has been my life’s work as well as my grand passion.  My vast experience allows me to view student achievement and academic excellence from many perspectives (resident, parent, teacher, reading consultant, school administrator and Board member) and to work with all to keep the focus where it belongs, on academic excellence and student achievement.

Matthew Galligan (R)

The largest issue facing the BOE is reversing the crisis of confidence the public has in the leadership, which I have consistently witnessed going door to door.  We can improve the faith Manchester residents have in us by working closely to ensure a smooth transition for our new Superintendent, Mr. Geary, and by working as fast as possible to conduct a thorough search for a new principal of Manchester High.  In the immediate and long-term outlook, we also must have on our BOE a financial mind to serve as a watchdog whenever budgets are crafted and decisions are made.

While I am not an educator, nor of an education background, I've been in the shoes of many Manchester students through my own educational career in Manchester Public Schools.  Firsthand knowledge of the value our teachers bring to the classroom allows me to realize that the teacher-student relationship is what pushes our students to success at the next level.  Additionally, my financial background and extensive experience setting, monitoring, and making sound decisions on budgets will allow me to ensure that our schools and teachers are getting what they need to boost achievement, while never forgetting the public trust I've been given to be an honest steward of public tax dollars.

Chris Pattacini (D) Current BOE chair

The most important issue facing the board of education today is ensuring that all children are afforded the opportunity of a high quality education, regardless of their race, socio-economic status, or background.  In the last decade, Manchester has become a very diverse community, and as we celebrate that diversity, we must also develop strategies, policies and programs that ensure that all children succeed.  In order to accomplish this, we need to make sure our schools are safe and that we foster a positive school climate where learning can occur and develop stronger connections with parents, to ensure that they are full partners with the school district.

I have served on Manchester’s board of education since 2008 and have served as its chairperson since November 2010.  During this time, there have been significant changes in our school district including new administrative staffs at both Illing and MHS, and the appointment of a new superintendent, effective this coming July.  During my tenure on the board, I have been able to apply my business knowledge and experience especially as a member of the board’s Personnel and Finance committee.

Carl Stafford (D)

First and foremost, it is imperative to ensure that each student is provided an equal and even educational opportunity regardless of socio-economic standing. Second, I believe we need to embrace a commitment to a higher expectation for student achievement. We need to provide a more modern educational model that prepares students for a future that may or may not include a four year general education experience. Third, I believe Manchester still suffers from a negative school system perception problem where the focus is set on problems instead of successes. Lastly, we need to continue to improve, upgrade or renovate our school infrastructure to insure that our school buildings last for many more years.

I'm a life-long resident of Manchester and I went to Manchester public schools.  I served as an active member of PTA, participated on a hiring committee for a principle as a parent representative and served as an active member of two principles advisory councils. I have mentored students and continue to be an active volunteer in the school system.  As a past BOE member serving 2005-08, I chaired the curriculum and instruction committee and the policy committee; I was a member on the buildings and sites committee, the head start policy council and the Manchester Community College Great Path Academy Governing Board. I have served on many employment search and contract negotiation committees.  I have a background in educational issue resolution and 25 years of college teaching experience, which I believe will bring a much needed maturity to the Board.

Jason Scappaticci (D) Incumbent

I feel that the most important issue facing the board of education is providing an excellent education to every student in our school system.  I work at Manchester Community College, specifically with students who are under prepared for college level work.  I know how challenging it is for them to "catch up."  I want to be sure that Manchester Public Schools are not graduating students who are not prepared for college level work. 

I believe I am qualified to be on the BOE for a few reasons.  I am a product of the Manchester Public School system.  I am fiercely proud of the excellent education I received and I tell anybody who will listen.  I know that the education I received set me up for a great college experience and career and I want to be sure that continues to happen for students today. 

Darryl Thames, Sr. (D) Incumbent

The most important issue facing Manchester Public Schools is the decline in academic performance as measured by standardized tests. This pressing issue must be successfully addressed if we are to prepare children to compete in the global market place. It is not only about decreasing academic disparity; it as about preparing ALL children to transition from school to college or to a meaningful career.  I intend to to help establish a stronger school, family, community partnership as the foundation of this work. 

I am a Christian man and I did not choose this role for my life; my life was chosen for this role.  Though I have been dubbed a political newcomer, I am a consummate public servant and have made contributions on the state/local levels of government and have experience with community based organizations in the nonprofit sector as well.  My background in using results-based accountability to evaluate and increase program performance are invaluable to developing strategies that will continually yield positive results for children of Manchester.

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