Take a moment to review each profile so you can be informed and prepared when you go to the polls on Nov. 5, 2013.
This week, we are looking at the Southington Board of Education candidates.
Name: Jerry Belanger
Party, Board Seeking: Democrat, Board of Education
Family information: Moved to Southington in 1989. Married 32 years to my wife, Martha. Two grown daughters, Maegan and Jocelyn, who were educated in the Southington schools and went on to graduate college.
Occupation, if applicable: Interactive Marketing & Web Strategy, Hartford HealthCare
Political Experience: I was a past member of the Southington Board of Education (2003-2007). During that term, I was a member of the Policy & Personnel Committee and the Curriculum Committee and served as a BOE representative during contract negotiations (AFSCME, SAA and SEA). I was the Southington Representative and Board Member of the Capitol Region Education Council (CREC), and currently serve as a board member of the CREC Foundation. I was also a member of the Plantsville/South End School Building Committee, and continued on that committee after my term on the BOE ended. I’ve served on the Town of Southington Energy Committee and currently serve on the Southington Democratic Town Committee.
Other Experience: I’ve been an educational advocate for many years. I coordinated the Connect ’96 program at North Center Elementary School, which was designed to wire each classroom in the school for Internet access. I also served two years as PTA president at North Center. From 1996 to 2003 I was involved with the Southington Parent-Teacher Council, serving as a member, Vice-President and President. During this period I served as ex-officio member of the School System’s Redistricting committee, was a member of the advisory committee, which interviewed candidates for Assistant Superintendent, and served on the School Improvement Council at Southington High School. I am currently a Board Member of the Southington Education Foundation (SEF) and I manage their website.
a past member of the Board of Directors for the Connecticut State PTA, where I
was honored with both the Elaine Boulay Award for Outstanding Service as well
as an Honorary Life Membership Award. I was also a member of the Nutmeg
Statewide PTA, where I received the 11th Annual Distinguished Leadership
Citation for Outstanding Service. While my daughters were part of the
Southington Blue Knights Marching Band, I served as Publicity Coordinator and
Webmaster for the Southington Band Backers. In addition, I continue to
serve as a judge for the Miss Hometown, Miss Nutmeg and Miss Watertown
Why did you run for office?
I feel every board of education member has an awesome responsibility - to help plan the education of the children in our community. As a board member, I will take this responsibility seriously. I feel I still have a lot to offer the community, and this is why I have decided to run once again.
If elected, what would be your primary areas of focus?
I don’t’ think a BOE member should be focused on one issue. However, the elimination of some of our Gifted & Talented programs concerns me. These programs are special education for students at the other end of the spectrum. We fight hard to maintain special education programming for struggling students. We need to fight just as hard for exceptional students since they too can fall through the cracks if they are not sufficiently challenged and motivated. To ensure this in the future, we should start thinking of gifted and talented programs in a new light. By treating them as system-wide enrichment programs or alternative instructional models, they could be incorporated into the regular curriculum, and would be less likely to be cut during tough budgets. The STEM initiative is one way to do this. However, since the arts are not included in STEM programming, it’s not a complete solution.
What do you feel is the biggest issue facing Southington today?
The school system today is dealing with several “big” issues. Increasing security at all of our schools, adjusting to new teacher evaluations, and implementing new smarter balanced testing are just a few. And, sequestration at the federal level and Connecticut’s fiscal problems will make the upcoming budget even more challenging than past budgets.
What skills do you have that you could bring to the community?
I’m a stickler for details (just ask my wife – though she has another word for it) which comes in handy when serving on the Board of Education. As a BOE member you need to digest and understand a lot of information, so being detail oriented is important. But, just as importantly, I'll always operate with the goal of “children first”. If elected, I will continue to use my experience as an advocate for education to further ensure this goal is met.
(Optional) Anything else you would like to share?
My full bio is available at: http://southingtondemocrats.org/candidates-2013/board-of-education/jerry-belanger/
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