Editor's note: Darien TV79, Channel 79, will air the Board of Education debate at 1:52 and 6:27 a.m. and p.m. through Thursday, Oct. 25.
The four candidates for three open seats in this year's Darien Board of Education hardly disagreed with each other but often emphasized different areas in their answers to questions Thursday at a candidate's forum.
There were hardly any disagreements among the four at the forum, which was more like a panel discussion than a debate. The event at Darien Library was sponsored by the Darien League of Women Voters and the Council of Darien School Parents.
[Editor's note: Links to articles with the texts of each candidate's statements will be added at the bottom of this article as they become available, and those documents will be attached to this article as well.]
With two candidates from each of the town's two parties running for three open seats, this year's election is the first since 1993 that there has been a contested race for the Board of Education in Darien. Each voter will be able to vote for only two of the four candidates.
By-and-large, with seemingly minor differences, all four candidates agree:
It would be nice to see the World Languages Program in Darien's elementary schools expanded.
Hagerty-Ross: The curriculum of the program, which just started this September, will be worked on for the next five years. "If, in that time, our administration comes to us and says, 'This has to be an every-day event,' we will weigh the plusses and minuses. I'm sure I probably would support that."
McCormick: She said she was a big supporter of the new program. "I'm not entirely sure that the current program is perfect, [but it's] a good start. [...] I would absolutely support expanding the foreign language program, and adding to it."
Stein: She said she was also a big supporter of the program, and she'd like to see it expanded, although she added that with the state mandating new Common Core standards in what schools teach, "that's going to take a lot of time for our administrators, learning how to impliment that," so they may find it difficult to work on an expansion of the language program.
Schneider-Zuro: "I'm very excited about the roll-out of this new program." At the next meeting of the Board of Education, teachers from the program are scheduled to give the board a briefing on the curriculum they're developing for it, she pointed out. She'd also be in favor of increasing the time students devote to the language program.
The idea of teachers being evaluated is a good one, and is also one in which teachers are given opportunities to improve.
Stein: "The key tenant of Professional Learning Communities is it emphasizes collaboration and trust among our teachers."
Hagerty-Ross: "Our teacher evaluation process has really been strengthened, and we work with our teachers to help make them better."
If money were no object, what one change would you like in Darien Public Schools?
Stein: "I think it would be spending some resources on teachers and their professional development."
Hagerty-Ross: One of the most important things the Darien school system does for its students is hire the best teachers. "We hire well in Darien. That is our mantra. That is the thing we do." What more could the town do with more money? More professional development for teachers.
Schneider-Zuro: "I would change unfunded mandates. I would change the fact that our state puts a lot of regulations on us and does not put their dollars behind them."
McCormick: Professional development.
Some closing comments
McCormick: "I am an out-of-the-box thinker with a [...] fresh perspective. [...] It will be my mission to inspire us all [...] to do the best possible job of creating an envirnoment where our kids will be empowered to reach their best potential."
Schneider-Zuro, a former teacher with two master's degrees in education and a career that includes teaching and education administration, emphasized her professional experience in her closing comment.
"I am the candidate who has had years of direct experience in the field," she said. "I have seen and personally handled the full spectrum of education issues."
Darien Patch has invited each candidate to email her opening and closing comments from the debate by Friday. Each set of comments will be posted on the Home page.
Links to those statements are here, in the order in which they were sent to Darien Patch (links will be activated as the articles are posted):
- Patty McCormick
- Katie Stein
- Elizabeth Hagerty-Ross
- Sarah Schneider-Zuro