At LWV forum, four Darien school board candidates press their case
The clear challenge Board of Education must face, according to the four school board candidates running in the Nov. 4 election, is hiring a permanent superintendent.
Democrats Tony Imbimbo and Michael Burke and Republicans David "Duke" Dineen and incumbent Michael Harman fielded questions regarding the school district at Tuesday's Meet the Candidates, hosted by the Darien League of Women Voters in the Darien Town Hall auditorium.
Dineen has been serving on the Board of Education since Republican Morgan Whittier stepped down from his position with a little more than two months left of his term.
"The greatest challenge the board faces is the one it doesn't see coming," Burke said, referencing the special education complaint that was filed with the state in 2013 that launched state and independent investigations and revealed wrong-doing within the district.
Harman, however, told the audience that as a result of his experience on the board, he has a different opinion.
"We have a great opportunity for selecting the next superintendent, but it's not the greatest challenge," Harman said. "Continuing to move this district forward is the challenge."
The four candidates are vying for three available seats in the election. Veteran board member and vice chairman Heather Shea had also announced her intent to step down from the board over the summer.
When asked what the Darien school district is missing, Dineen questioned whether the best technology is being used in the classrooms for the students.
"We need to look for opportunities that would enhance the curriculum," Dineen said.
Imbimbo told the audience that he felt the board and district could more effectively communicate with the community.
He stated that the schools and administration could utilize the local media more frequently to share what is happening within the schools.
"Space," Harman said, citing the ever increasing enrollment within the schools and the need for more space in the classrooms to accommodate the students.
The candidates were also asked their opinions on the Common Core State Standards which is a set of national standards schools must meet. However, the standards have encountered criticism from parents and educators across the country.
"With regard to Common Core, the short answer is that it's not great, but it can be," Burke said. "The question is how the Board of Education can make it great."
During the closing remarks, Imbimbo said that he believes Darien is one of the best school districts in the state, but that it can be better.
"It's been an honor to serve on the Board of Education," Dineen said. "I will continue to listen and participate. Opportunities and challenges will always present themselves."
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