Student population and transportation may be hot topics at candidates forum Oct. 20

Student population, transportation and testing are some of the issues that may come up when Board of Education candidates gather for a public forum next month.

The Milford PTA Council is hosting the forum, which will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Foran High School in the auditorium beginning at 7 p.m.

“Please come out and hear what the Board of Ed candidates have to say,” says a PTA Council Facebook posting about the forum.

The candidates will be asked to answer questions, and the PTA Council invites residents to submit questions through its Facebook page. Questions must pertain to policy, procedure or budget.

Democratic Town Committee Chairman Rich Smith said the big issues this year will likely include student population compared to facility size.

“Student population is going down and the infrastructure supports a larger population,” Smith said. “At some point that will have to be addressed.”

Last year the Board of Education came close to voting to close Harborside Middle School and possibly an elementary school in response to a long range planning study. But after much debate and outrage from parents, that plan was narrowly defeated during a board vote.

Republican Town Committee Chairman Paul Beckwith said there are a number of issues that the school board may consider in coming years and that might make for talking points at the upcoming forum.

“The board will have to address the growing concern of student transportation, address the issue of too much testing and not enough teaching in the classroom, changing the stigma of parents who think their voices are not heard by board members or the administration, provide programs and opportunities for the non-college bound student to be successful after graduating, continue to build on school security, provide a top tier education for all students on a fiscally prudent budget, and finally develop a long term plan for our school system that will stop the Band-Aid approach to issues, curriculum and facilities,” Beckwith said.

Smith and Beckwith were in agreement that transportation is a key school issue today.

School transportation has been a hot topic since the school district began more strictly enforcing its walking distance policy and removing some long-time bus riders from city school buses. Now, the Board of Education is considering lowering the walking distance for Milford students, meaning more students will be allowed to ride the bus.

Currently high school students who live within 2 miles of school must walk; middle school students who live within 1.5 miles of school must walk; and elementary school students within 1 mile are considered walkers. The board is expected to discuss walking distances at its Oct. 12 meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in the Board of Education meeting room.

Board of Education candidates who will be on the Democratic ballot in November are: 1st district Ann Grosso Arnold and Pat Pacelli; 2nd district Susan Glennon and Jennifer Federico; 3rd district C. Robert Satti and Sonia Bannon; 4th district Jess Gregory and Earl Whiskeyman; 5th district Phil Zetye and Claire Casey.

Candidates who will be on the Republican ballot are 1st district John DeRosa and Michael DeGrego; 2nd district Frank Musante and Daniel Faroni; 3rd district Susan Krushinsky and Thomas Jagodzinski; 4th district Leigh Lepper and Ila Tokarz, and 5th district Suzanne DiBiase and William Farrell.