Candidates for District 5, BOE in Killingly
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Oct. 28, 2013
Meet the candidates running for Town Council, District 5 and the Board of Education in Killingly:
District 5 Town Council Race
Lynn LaBerge (D): "The town needs to expand its industrial base and allow for better use of its mills," said LaBerge. "We need to continue the revitalization of downtown Danielson, and make people feel safe. Taxpayer money has to be spent wisely. The town and Board of Education have agreed to start buying supplies together. As a member of the Special Commission for Consolidation of Services, I can help expand the program so taxpayers are paying one low price for all purchases and contracts."
"Special education costs are a problem," she said. "I applaud Superintendent Farr for starting a new program to lower these costs. We also need to be sure all students in Killingly are getting a good education."
LaBerge continued, "More needs to be done to provide for senior housing needs. Waiting lists for Maple Court and Westfield Village are 40 and 53, respectively. I am a member of the Danielson Borough Council and served one term on the Town Council. I have continued to keep up-to-date with what is going on in town and to attend various meetings. I come to this position with the knowledge and time that is necessary to research the issues, answer the questions and fulfill the duties required of a Councilor."
William Ritter (R): Ritter graduated from Marietta College in 2009 with a bachelor's in political science. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 2087 and the Killingly Public Safety Commission. He served on the Thompson Economic Development Commission, Thompson Small Cities Advisory Board, and Thompson Redevelopment Agency from 2011 to 2012.
Board of Education
Hoween Flexer (D): "I’m a product of the district. I want to make sure all of our students are career and college ready when they leave school. I want them to have a good skill set, be able to make a living and give back to the community by being involved and being civically engaged," said Flexer.
"I’m starting an alumni speaker series to showcase our graduates and what they’ve done in our community. Some have gone on to do wonderful things. Just knowing those goals are attainable is important, and it’s something we need to talk about. We talk a lot about our shortcomings but not enough about our successes."
"I’ve been on the board for four years, advocating for all of our students. I’d like to keep working on addressing the needs of our students on the lower end of spectrum. We have a high drop-out rate for our free lunch students. We’re trying to pinpoint why that number is so large. I want to make sure we are providing the same services and assistance to all of our students. I don’t think your socioeconomic status should determine whether or not you graduate from high school."
Richard Murray (D): "The major issue facing the Board of Education in Killingly, and in school districts across the state, is funding," Murray said. "We must continue to provide programs for all students so they will have an opportunity to succeed with budgets that are stagnant. The state of Connecticut must pick up its fair share of education funding in order to equalize the education for all students. Property taxes should not continue to be a major funding source," Murray said.
"I am the most experienced candidate in terms of tenure on the ballot in Killingly. I have taken every opportunity to attend professional development seminars and workshops to understand the issues facing our district. I am an advocate in Hartford and Washington for public education issues facing Connecticut. I would be honored to continue my service for public education in Killingly."
Kyle Provencher (D): "I think the major issue in this town is participation," said Provencher. "I think the parents need to be more involved with voting and decision making. And I think the boards need to be more transparent and show the issues at hand. I believe in transparency because there should be nothing to hide on either side.
"I think getting youth on the board is a good thing. We need fresh ideas coming from the future. I think having a mind for the future will help correct certain issues and awareness problems."
Monique Revellese (D): "With 12-percent voter turnout, I want to work towards engaging the community with the school in hopes of getting their support because we are doing wonderful things at the school. We don’t hear a lot of the positives," said Revellese.
"I’ve been a school volunteer for six years since my children were in kindergarten. We have about 25 children per class and the teachers need help now more than ever. My perspective comes from being in the classroom. When I make decisions on the board I have first-hand experience on how those decisions will affect the children, teachers and schools. I was the only candidate at the CABE workshop for new BOE candidates. I learned so much from that two-hour workshop about principal, superintendent and BOE member responsibilities. I’ll be able to walk in the door knowing what they are."
Karen Fremuth (R): "The thing that bothers me the most is the constant complaining about the money issues. I know that there are state and federal mandates being placed on school systems. Now there are standardized lessons being imposed. The one-size-fits-all mandates don’t allow for creative, efficient ways to teach," said Fremuth. "In Killingly taxes have been raised three years in a row. I think I could offer a fresh perspective on how to address these issues.
"I taught art part-time in a parochial school. I had to work with no budget. The whole school had no budget. Everyone had to make the most of what we had. Perhaps that background and approach might help.
"I think I would offer a fresh perspective on how to approach things. My experience doesn’t come from having an endless supply of tax money that gets forwarded to school systems. It comes from the exact opposite - from having nothing and having to make do with what you have."
Greg Keeley (R): "The biggest challenge the town faces is the money that goes to fund education. It’s been tough over the last few years to get a budget passed. Meeting the minimum budget requirements for education is going to be a huge obstacle going forward, not only for the board of education but for the town council as well," said Keeley.
"I’ve been on the board for the last four years and am chair of the fiscal subcommittee. In the last year, Superintendent Kevin Farr has done a good job digging into the special education budget. Since that was done, the board and Farr have brought a new program back into Killingly. It’s a win for funding and a win for families and students.
"When I moved here five years ago I started getting involved. I wanted to make sure every child in town had the opportunity to achieve academic excellence. That should be the goal of the board. I think there needs to be balance on the board. The system needs to be looked at not just through the eyes of an educator. It needs to be looked at more as a non-profit. We need to look at where the dollars are going and how to maximize the dollars that we have."
Diane Summa (R): "We need to get the education budget under control. Every year the budget goes up and yet teachers complain they don’t get enough supplies or materials. Where does that money go?" Summa asked.
"We own the buses and we have our own transportation system. I’m hoping to find out that contracting with a company will save the town money. In this state, the parent has the ability to force districts into providing certain special education programs for their children. That is very difficult, and that is why costs are astronomical," she said.
"I’ve been an educator for 39 years. I’m a retired assistant superintendent, school administrator and teacher. I have a wealth of experience. I know how to build a budget. I know what goes into a budget and I know what it is to run a school system. I think I can be an asset to the superintendent and to the board."
Jennifer Thompson (R): "The two biggest issues are special education outsourcing and the costs associated with it, and the reconfiguration of school buildings," said Thompson. "I think there are better ways to utilize the spaces and buildings to better align the grades so it makes more sense.
"I’ve lived in town for 10 years. I understand the issues. I work for a company that is based in Killingly, so I have a different perspective. I have a degree and background in education. I oversee staff as a director of a daycare center. I’m a big proponent of early childhood education. With the way standards are going, and full day kindergarten mandates coming down the pike, I already have an understanding of the requirements that would help."