STAMFORD, Conn. — The public schools in Stamford are falling apart and are in need of building upgrades, according to the five candidates for the Board of Education. They gave their plans to fix the schools Monday night during a candidates forum.
“It’s very, very frustrating,” Lorraine Olson, a Republican incumbent, repeated several times while explaining that the board had worked out an agreement with the city but has not received the necessary funds. She added that “emergency,” “patch” fixes should be replaced by permanent solutions.
“We have lots of large corporations with a lot of money,” said Dolores Burgess, a Democratic challenger. She said she would reach out to businesses to invest in the city. She said businesses should want to help because the students may end up working there.
Board President Polly Rauh, a Democrat, urged the 50 people who attended the forum to go to the public hearings during the budget process and explain to the other boards what bad shape the buildings are in. “We have to remember the buildings aren’t ours,” she said.
John Hoch, a Republican challenger, said he would work toward streamlining the process to have the city repair problems in the schools. He said he experienced firsthand how difficult it is to get buildings fixed while working at Domus. He added that the board must form a new plan with the city and make sure it is implemented.
Jerry Pia, a Republican incumbent, said he will continue to try to change how the budget is used, allowing the Board of Education to be responsible for school building repairs rather than the city. “We should be able to do more work, not less,” he said.
Three seats are open on the board this election season.
The forum was sponsored by the Stamford Parent-Teacher Council and moderated by Dannette Melchionne. The questions were provided by community groups and the schools and were not presented to the candidates in advance.
Another forum is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Yerwood Center, 90 Fairfield Ave. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.