Milford Board of Education District 4 candidate: Raquel Hernández Bonessi

Raquel Hernández Bonessi

Raquel Hernández Bonessi

Contributed photo

Party: Republican

Are you an incumbent? (If yes, how many years in office): No

Current job: World Language educator

Volunteering background, if any: Literacy Volunteers of Southern CT here in Milford. At school, Coordinator for Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE), Sociedad Honoraria, Hispánica-National Spanish Honor Society, Annual International Evening.

Education: CT Literacy Specialist Program: Remedial Reading & Reading Consultancy from Sacred Heart University; Sixth Year: Intermediate Administration & Supervision from Southern Connecticut State University; M.Ed.: Elementary Bilingual-Bicultural Education and TESOL from Rhode Island College; B.A.: World Languages from Rhode Island College.

Previous offices held: Currently a Board Member for Literacy Volunteers of Southern CT

If elected, what will be your primary focus — budget, curriculum, another topic?

If elected, my primary focus will be curriculum. An issue facing our town is Milford Public Schools' poor *CT State Smarter Balance Assessment results: 32 percent of students are below grade level in English & Writing, 39 percent are below grade level in math and 50 percent of students are below grade level in science. These results were prior to Covid and they do not take into consideration the learning loss from the past year and a half. Yet, there is a graduation increase rate of 93 percent from 92 percent.

I will ensure more time is dedicated to focusing on higher expectations, rigorous curriculum design, and remove politics and other agendas from the classroom.

* CT Mirror 9.9.19

What is your stance on the recent calls by some for more input in the curriculum? Do you feel the curriculum is proper, any issues or changes needed in your mind?

Parents are worried and concerned about the lack of transparency and accountability. They want to keep politics out of the classroom and stress the basics — that means focusing on math, science, writing, reading, history and the arts. We need to stand up for our gifted and special needs students and support our renowned performing arts and athletic programs. If we concentrate on the basics, rather than the “racism everywhere” theme that has crept up into Milford’s schools, our children will be better served. On top of the disruption to education from Covid-19, these schemes are creating a lost generation of students.

Your thoughts on the school budget — how it stands now for what is needed in the schools?

I am unfamiliar with any long term range plan budget, but I believe there needs to be one. We are currently spending $99-plus million on education and this figure does not include the $24 million on the city side that pays for nurses and all the medical health benefits. That is a total of $125 million. If we divide this figure by the student population of 5,300; the cost per student is about $23,000. These figures do not include the recent funding of $4-5 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief-known as ESSER.

All candidates can also respond about their reasons for running, time they have lived in the city, and why they are best for the role.

I am a longtime resident of Milford and I can bring true diversity to the Board of Education. I am a Hispanic, immigrant who lived under Castro's Communist oppression for 10 years and under Spain's Franco's Fascist dictatorship for two years. I know what it is like to lack basic civil rights, to be monitored in thought and action, not to have food on the table, and to have your water and electricity rationed by the government daily. I have been uprooted and forced to start my life all over; in a new country with a new language and culture, so I am sympathetic to the needs of a modern, diverse student population. I am extremely thankful to this country for opening its doors and allowing my single-parent family to enjoy the freedoms of this county.

I am highly qualified to serve on the BoE. I have more than 30 years of experience in curriculum background, developing rigorous integrated lessons aligned to state standards, assessments, and in communicating with parents in an understandable format.