Thursday, October 17, 2013

Disappointing Turnout For Board of Education Candidate Forum


In my two years on the Board of Education, I've received dozens of emails, and heard lots of complaints about what residents feel is wrong with our schools, and suggestions about ways we can do things differently.

So, my expectation was that hundreds of parents, teachers, students, residents and taxpayers would show up last night at Middletown High School to hear candidates for the Board of Education talk about the ways in which they would serve the public and the schools.

Unfortunately, there were so few attendees that I was able to do a head count.  Sixty-six.  That's right, sixty-six residents (out of 46,000) interested enough in the future of our schools to attend a forum with potential members of the BOE.  Those attending included the superintendent, the assistant superintendent, three Republican candidates for the Common Council, a school principal, two current members of the BOE, and several students.

What's worse, is that out of the eight candidates running, only four attended.  The other four were absent due to illness (Republican Brian Kaskel is diagnosed with pneumonia) and a "family obligation."

What voters missed was an engaging discussion by candidates Sheila Daniels (R), Franca Biales (D), Richard Kagan (D), and Vinnie Loffredo (D), on topics as diverse as class size, school funding, state mandates, breakfast in the classroom, education reform and the relationship between the BOE, residents, parents and teachers.

Fortunately the meeting was videotaped for broadcast on public access.  Still, it leaves me puzzled about the true concern in our community for education at a time when our public schools are stressed by stringent budgets and mandated reforms.

I hope the turnout at this forum is not an indication of the eventual turnout for the election on November 5.

Ed McKeon is a current member of the Board of Education.


BobbyZim said...

Where can I find the video? I would have liked to attend, but I needed to attend a business meeting. I don't get the Public Access Cable Channel, so is there anywhere on the internet I can find the video of the event?

Mr B. said...

This truly is a shame and compared to other towns throughout Connecticut and even in the area this has been one of the weakest towns for such events. There are so many people out there in this town that do not participate one has to wonder.
One question that comes to mind is are we getting the word out and touching each and every citizen of this town in some way shape or form? Many people do not even know what the Middletown-Eye is. One has to ask the question how is it that of 46,000 people only 66 were in attendance it almost seems obvious that the word is not getting around of these public meetings. Perhaps if the 66 people in attendance along with the candidates reached out to five friends and asked this question we might get some answers nonetheless it is an indicator that drastic changes need to be made in this town

Mr B. said...

Notice Bobbyzim's response? Last year I attended the Westfild fire department commissioning vote and of all the citizens of Westfield 90% independence for the senior citizens of the town. Most others were firefighters. Did not get a count but couldn't be more than 30 people in the room.

Anonymous said...

I'm a concerned and involved Middletown parent and I had absolutely no idea this was happening. Would have loved to attend.

Anonymous said...

The Republican candidates were sick. Alot of folks are sick at the moment, look at the cold med aisle at CVS! It would have been nice if someone asked if they could reschedule rather than assume they did not care. And with quotes around "family obligation"- not nice!- if the opposite team was ill would you have been more understanding?

Newpawta said...

Someday, when I DON'T have kids to take care of , I will have time to care more about EVERYBODY'S kids (not that I don't now). Hubby out-of-town all day/night, me at work, then attending P/T conferences at MHS, while shuttling kids to drama club, soccer and softball, with a stop at grocery and making dinner, then supervising homework, showers, etc. Couldn't squeeze in the meeting, so I put it out of my head as soon as I got the Eye and looked at the calendar. Oh well - I do my best! Ed, please know that I do appreciate the work that you and many others are doing on our behalf!

Bill Wilson said...

I am apologizing for missing the candidate forum, but I have the flu and there was no way I could have made it though 10 minutes that evening.

So for the sixty-six taxpayers who were there. I want to apologize. If any of them want to know my position on the issues they can go of facebook me at

Anonymous said...

Bill Wilson,

YOu leave website for the Middletown GOP but you didn't write your position there. All it says is the committees you have been on, your church, and your education. Where is your stance? I heard that you emailed that you were sick hours before it started. Where have you gone to share your views on our education system? From what we have seen, you have gone no where. We need people who will stand up for our kids, not disappear when needed.

Madam Nirvana (Molly Salafia) said...

All of the GOP candidates were present at an open to the public meet and greet last week graciously hosted by NORA cupcake on Main Street. Our headquarters is at 790 Ridge Road. Please stop by anytime. Thank you.