Declining enrollment among issues for Salem school board candidates

Salem - In addition to the Board of Selectmen, there is long list of candidates vying for other positions.

Four candidates are running for three open seats on the Board of Education: the two Republican incumbents, Stephen E. Buck and Pamela Munro, and two Democrats, Teri Natoli and Sam Rindell. Each voter can choose two candidates.

Buck, 68, is a retired teacher and administrator who began his career as a fifth-grade teacher in 1967. He spent 32 years with the East Lyme school system and retired as the director of special services. He is on the school building committee and has served on the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The major issues facing the Board of Education, according to Buck, include the "slow but steady" decrease in enrollment, the need to maintain flexible staffing and scheduling and the continued fine-tuning of administrative staffing levels and responsibilities. He said it is important to secure a contract with "an appropriate secondary school option" for Salem high school students when the town's contract with East Lyme expires.

Natoli, 54, teaches science at the Science and Technology Magnet School of Southeastern Connecticut. She said the major issues facing the school board are "developing open and clear communication of board practices and decisions" as well as televising meetings and creating a "fiscally responsible vision" for the school.

Rindell, 35, is the executive education program manager at the University of Connecticut and a professor at the New England College of Business and Finance. He is also an adjunct instructor at Three Rivers Community College.

Salem needs to "continually assess and proactively address" declining enrollment in the school system, said Rindell. He said having children in the town's school system has made him familiar with the issues facing students and their parents.

Munro, who is the board of education's secretary, has been a member of the board since 2004. She is a retired public school teacher and the mother of a graduate of Salem School and East Lyme High School. She has served on several board subcommittees and as liaison to related boards.

For Town Clerk, Assistant Town Clerk Linda Flugrad, a Republican, is running against recreation department program coordinator and building department clerk Diane Weston, a Democrat.

In unopposed races, Democrat Pam Henry is running for treasurer and Democratic incumbent Cheryl Philopena for tax collector.

Incumbent Republican Greg Preston, Republican incumbent Dave Kennedy, an alternate on the board, and Democrat Chris Bennett are running for the two seats on the Board of Finance.

Democrat John Houchin and Republican Robert Sartori are running for an alternate seat on the Board of Finance.

Three full-term seats are up for election on the Planning and Zoning Committee.

Democrats Gloria Fogarty, who is an alternate on the board, and Ruth Savalle, the board's vice chairman, are running for the seats. Republicans Ronald LaBonte, Hernan Salas and Joseph Duncan are also running.

Two alternate seats on Planning and Zoning are also open, and the Republicans nominated Eric Wenzel, an unaffiliated voter, and John Gadbois.

Robert Green, a Republican, and Frank Abetti, a Democrat, are running for seats on the Board of Assessment Appeals. Two candidates can be elected, but voters can only vote for one.

Two seats are open for six-year terms on the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Republican candidates are Ken Bondi and Terri Salas and the Democrats are incumbents Kate Bellandese and Bernie Ferrara.

Democrat Ed Natoli is running against Republican Denise Orsini for a four-year vacancy on the Zoning Board of Appeals. .

Incumbent Democrat Becky Nortz is running unopposed for a the six-year alternate position on the ZBA. Democrat Charlie Dutch is running unopposed for a four-year alternate position on the ZBA.

Republicans Susan Buck and Wendy Ortega and Democrats Carl Traggis and Anne Rowthorn are running for two seats open on the Library Board of Trustees.

k.catalfamo@theday.com

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