Board of Education Democratic Candidate Profiles

Milford BOE

District 1

Mark Ahrens

Qualifications: I have experience in three walks of life that make me uniquely qualified
to be an effective member of the BoE; business person, educator, and parent. As a business person, I understand the need to set priorities, do more with less, and take corrective actions when situations dictate.

As an educator and owner of Mathnasium, I have the vantage point of seeing, first-hand, the educational results of students from a variety of school districts. I see what works well and not so well. As a parent of a Milford student, I see the educational process unfold on a daily basis.

What do you hope to accomplish: I want to establish a culture of excellence in Milford schools. This culture should exist not only with regard to student performance, but also within our teachers and administrators, our sports and other extracurricular groups, as well as with the levels of parental involvement. I will be an effective steward of taxpayer monies, ensuring that funds are spent for the direct benefit of Milford’s students. I would like the BoE to adopt a more active role of oversight, be willing and able to ask tough, fair-minded questions of the administration, and expect time-sensitive action plans, if warranted.

Laura Fetter

Qualifications: As a member of the Board of Education, along with my background in financial services coupled with my education provides me with the knowledge to help make sound decisions pertaining to how we can get the most value for our money and ensure that money is spent on learning. As a parent who is involved in my child’s education, as well as being married to a teacher, I understand the challenges that we currently face. This combined with experience working on various community and non-profit boards has given me first-hand knowledge, insight and awareness to the task at hand.

What do you hope to accomplish: My top priority is to ensure that every child will be successful by developing a school system that we are proud of. The biggest challenge facing Milford’s school system is closing the achievement gap. At the end of the day we all have a vested interest in the outcome of students’ education. By continuing to advocate for children of all abilities and raising the bar, encouraging and promoting education as the best investment that we can give our students, and continuing my work with the Milford Education Foundation and the Board of Education I hope to help close the achievement gap.

District 2

Susan Glennon

Qualifications: I am seeking re-election to a second term on the school board and am currently Majority Leader, the liaison to PTA Council and one of two board members serving on the Long Range Planning Committee. Throughout the years my children attended Milford schools I served on many school committees and held leadership roles in PTA at the local, city-wide and state-wide level. As an early childhood caregiver, education has been a big part of my professional life. I take my responsibilities as a board member very seriously and feel I can continue to make a valuable contribution.

What do you hope to accomplish: I hope to continue my role on the Long Range Planning Committee, developing a proactive plan to address declining student enrollment and aging buildings. We are evaluating data and options and expect to have recommendations for the board in early spring 2014. Additionally, by maintaining strong goals and high expectations for excellence in all areas of the school system, I want to work with the superintendent to assure we have the necessary resources to allow our students and staff to achieve at the highest levels possible, in a way we can all be proud of.

Tracy Casey

Qualifications: I have served on Milford’s Board of Education for the past six years and have been chairman for the past two. I studied the difficult issues facing the board, discussed those issues with residents and administration to consider all the different solutions and voted with what I believe has been the best interests of Milford’s children, taxpayers and the community at large. I bring broad business experience, including strategic direction, managing budgets and developing policy, providing valuable skill to board issues. I am passionate about our children’s education and my past six years demonstrate my commitment to this work.

What do you hope to accomplish: This is a very exciting time for the education community. During the past two years, the current Board of Education launched a Long Range Planning study, a Special Education audit and began the implementation of the Common Core curriculum, associated testing and new teacher and administration evaluation systems. I would like to continue to serve on the board to bring this work to fruition. Additionally, this past year I brought the boards of aldermen and education together to approve the School Resource Officer Program. I commit to continuing this integrated work and doing what is best for the Milford community.

District 3

Christopher Saley

Qualifications: I am a member of the Board of Education, the Permanent Building Committee, the negotiating committee for teacher and administrator contracts, a member of the West Shore and Jonathan Law PTA and former member of the Milford Sewer Commission. I have over fifteen years experience as manager in for-profit and not-for-profit businesses with oversight of over 50 employees and a budget of over $2 million and was intimately involved in running a $27 million-a-year company. I worked as a teamster, which helped me understand how unions work, including contracts, grievances, disciplinary procedures, arbitration and terminations.

What do you hope to accomplish: I hope to implement the recommendations of the special education audit and transportation audit. These best-practices recommendations would improve our school systems substantially and reduce costs from 4-9 million dollars a year. I would funnel these savings back into a universal pre-school program for all 3-4 year olds in the city as well as a universal before and after-care program within all elementary schools so working parents would have options for their school-aged children. We could accomplish this and still save money and create a strong foundation for our children to begin their education.

George Gensure

Qualifications: I am a former Analyst for the Pittsburgh Public Schools, implementing technology solutions for the Human Resources and Finance departments. Over the last two years, I have served the 3rd District as a Board of Education member, and have added to my experience with the budgeting, negotiation, and operational processes surrounding education in that time. I have struck a balance between being a receptive representative of my district’s concerns while demonstrating a fiscally responsible attitude as a public servant.

What do you hope to accomplish: I will, first and foremost, continue to listen to the citizens of the 3rd district, and ensure that I am a voice for their needs and desires and that these are heard in Milford. In the face of changes which require our schools to become more efficient and raise standards, I look to find the best possible education to provide to our students with the resources available. The challenges facing students, particularly the skyrocketing cost of higher education, require us to find new and innovative ways to expand the bounds of what they can achieve as they leave high school.

District 4

Earl E. Whiskeyman, Jr.

Qualifications: Currently serving on the Board Of Education. Currently serving on Board of Governors, ACES. Now retired, but past experiences include: five years as IT director at Naugatuck Public School District, Director of Graduate Program in Software Engineering at Fairfield University, 15 years teaching at BEI and Fairfield University, Manager of DBA group at Pitney Bowes in IT department, including multimillion dollar budget for this group.

What do you hope to accomplish: I hope to accomplish a balanced approach to both education and expenses. By continuously monitoring and evaluating both the educational progress of the students and the effectiveness and efficiency of expenditures, I expect to see a continuously improving educational achievement for the district. Students should be exposed to a wide variety of educational experiences, including academics, art, music, sports and crafts. We must not allow narrowly defined tests to drive us to overemphasize some areas to the detriment of a balanced educational system.

Dr. Heidi Gold-Dworkin

Qualifications: I have a strong background in education especially in science education. I received my graduate education from Yale and my undergraduate degree from Cornell. I have published numerous articles in scientific research journals including Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Cell. I have taught in classrooms from Pre-K through college, inner city public and private schools. I have trained teachers in the US, Japan, Korea, and Brazil. I have consulted with Bayer, Pfizer, IBM, AAAS, Kaplan, and McGraw Hill on science education. Most importantly, I am honest and dedicated to what is best for Milford’s students.

What do you hope to accomplish: The global and economic achievement gap is the biggest challenge facing the Milford school system. I hope to work together with the members of the BOE and the superintendent to develop a stronger education system in Milford. All students should be prepared for college or 21st century careers upon graduation from high school. I believe we should use our resources in the most efficient and effective way to ensure that our education system prepares Milford’s students to enter the best colleges and most competitive job markets.

District 5

Sarah Ferrante

Qualifications: I work in non-profit development, so I am challenged with providing high quality services with finite funds. This is not unlike the Board of Education’s obligation to prepare all students to achieve at their highest level within the financial constraints of the budget. I am qualified for the BOE because I understand that the key to overcoming these challenges is focusing on the mission. As long as every measure considered by the board is evaluated for its efficacy in promoting student achievement, we can work towards long-term, holistic strategies and policies that will see students growing and excelling.

What do you hope to accomplish: Milford’s education system is at an exciting point. With the implementation of the Common Core Standards and the work of the Long Range Planning Committee, Milford schools are poised for incredible growth and achievement. On the Board of Education, I hope to ensure that these opportunities for excellence are realized. Every student is entitled to a competitive and inspiring public education that will prepare him or her to be an active contributor to our global world. And, I am committed to ensuring that Milford students have a school system that will prepare and energize them to fulfill their potential.

Laura Fucci

Qualifications: For over 17 years, I’ve been involved with the Milford Public Schools as a parent, advocate, volunteer, PTA member and former substitute paraprofessional. Together, these experiences have provided me with a varied and deep perspective, one which would add a distinct voice to the decision-making process on the Board of Education. I believe that public education is vital for our society to function. Raising a family, including a child with special needs, has taught me how to balance different requirements and viewpoints. Having a child currently attending Milford’s schools affords me a current outlook as well.

What do you hope to accomplish: We need to foster an environment of respect for differences so students are able to learn in safe surroundings. Educators face increasing demands beyond academics. They need appropriate resources to meet those challenges. I will work to support their efforts in the classroom. Most successful endeavors result from thoughtful and informed collaboration and communication across many points of view. I hope to expand such relationships among school, families and the community to find solutions to our educational obstacles. I will work on behalf of all students to obtain an appropriate and quality public education that helps prepare them for adulthood.

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