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Board of Education Candidates

Meet our Board of Education Candidates Kate Kutash, Joan Littlefied, Patti Moonan, BetteLynn Paez and Lorraine Rossner

The Shelton Herald asked our Candidates 2 questions: 1. What is the biggest challenge facing the school district, and how would you plan to address that if elected? And 2. What are the areas of need in the district in your opinion and how would you work to address those areas when considering the fiscal restraints the schools face?

You can read their responses below.

Kate Kutash (D)

Work - Taught at the elementary level in Stratford for 43 years

Political - First elected to the Board of Education in 2009, serving as the chair of the Teaching and Learning Committee and for the last two years has been vice-chair.

Community - Shelton resident for 27 years; was active in PTA at all levels and as a band and drama parent.

1. The biggest challenge facing Shelton Public Schools continues to be funding. We have been underfunded for years. I will continue to work with the superintendent and fellow BOE members to improve relationships with city hall so that they truly understand our needs, which especially is staffing to meet the needs of increasing class size and the social emotional struggles that have increased since the pandemic

2. As stated previously, Shelton Public Schools lack adequate funding to do our job meeting the needs of students. We are faced with a “financial cliff” caused by years and years of underfunding. I will continue to spread the message about all the things we have not been able to do appropriately and the areas that are getting worse due to lack of necessary finance.

Joan Littlefield (D)

Work - Neonatal nurse before my career in public health in developing countries for the past 32 years; current position is deputy senior VP, Global Health at Americares Foundation

Political - Active member of the Shelton Democratic Committee

Community - Having moved many times, I engage with each community, such as serving on the board for a charity supporting orphans, my parish council, or as a founding member of my Toastmasters Club.

1. Our school system is under resourced, and it is showing. Our kids need teachers. Counselors. Library books with librarians. Music, sport and robotics. All of this is possible within our low tax structure.

2. Our fiscal constraints are real. We can be strategic in how we use our city resources, effectively use state support, and foster a culture supportive of learning and healthy communities in our schools.

Patricia Moonan (D)

Work - She has worked in the legal and financial fields, as a paralegal at a large New York City law firm and as a corporate lending officer for Chase Bank in Manhattan. She is currently a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice.

Political – Two-term Board of Education member

Community - A board member at Adam’s House and a co-facilitator of its Monday Mourning grief support group for adults.

1. The biggest challenge facing the school district is the current funding of its' operating budget. The budget drives class size, staffing, availability of up-to-date curriculum and school supplies, as well as its technology needs. The Superintendent and the BOE develop the school budget based on determined needs. This budget is then presented to the Mayor and the BOA for their review. The mayor makes his recommendation on the funding of the BOE budget, and the BOA has the final say on that number. Since the 2018-2019 school year to the present, the full BOE budget requests have not been fully funded. As a result, the difference of six years of budget requests what was funded is approximately - $11 million. This has resulted in a loss of 62.6 positions. Academic achievement has been negatively impacted because of this, as the school district’s academic state ranking fell last year from 71st to 74th. I intend to collaborate with a mayor and BOA, that is open to working in a bipartisan manner, in order to advocate for appropriate funding of the BOE budget.

2. The fiscal restraints the schools face have negatively impacted areas of need in the schools. I propose to search for solutions that would have minimal or no cost involved to the schools. As a mental health professional, I have contributed my expertise to the administration in finding additional support to the schools in the area of counseling, social work and school psychology. Prior to COVID, there were two school social workers for the five elementary schools, with caseloads of over 700 students a piece. When COVID happened, ARP grant money became available for the school district to hire more professionals for these positions. That money goes away next school year. One of my recommendations was chosen by the Administration, and a non-profit organization will now provide mental health counseling to students at SIS and SHS as part of their school day. This will occur at no cost to the school district. These mental health counselors will not take the place of the school personnel in this area of need but will supplemental assistance. I intend to continue to provide my expertise to work collaboratively with school administration to develop creative ways to provide cost effective essential services to the schools.

Bette Lynn Paez (D)

Work - She sold computers for IBM in Pittsburgh, then moved back to Connecticut where she owned and operated Bette Lynn’s BakeHouse in Black Rock. She is also a certified financial planner.

Community - She continues to bake regularly for a soup kitchen and for Spooner House. She is a member of the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce and its Women in Networking group. For several years, she served as chair of the Chamber’s Valley Business Network.

Lorraine Rossner (D)

Work - Retired after a 42-year career with the Shelton Public School System. She has served as a classroom specialist on the elementary, intermediate and secondary levels as well as holding the positions of Department Chair and Professional Development Coordinator for the district. She has served in the administrative positions of Elementary Vice-Principal and High School House Master. She finished as assistant superintendent for the last 9 years of her tenure.

Political – Board of Education last two years

Community - Shelton resident for almost 40 years; founding member of the “Lady D’s” Scholarship Fund and currently serves as secretary/treasurer.

1. Shelton schools are an investment in our city’s future. The most important job of a city government, besides the safety and security of their citizens, is the education of their students. Our children deserve the best education we can provide. We must not short-change them. And by “they,” I mean all our children, from the disadvantaged, to the gifted, to those who need special assistance. Giving them less than what they deserve damages their prospects, cheapens our reputation as a school district, and erodes the value of our property. If we all care about Shelton, then we must adequately support and fund the school system.

2. The current school system administration continues to use its financial resources in a purposeful and transparent way. They know and understand their responsibility to provide curricular and technological platforms that will best service our students. However, there are certain departments that have unforeseeable encumbrances that affect year-end budgets. Special education, transportation, technology and staff health care are all departments which could have unforeseen year-end overages. Shelton needs responsible budgeting that positions the city for long-term success for students and stability for our taxpayers. This can only occur if the City and BOE work together to realistically meet the needs of the district.

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