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Montville Board of Education candidates talk masks and transparency

Montville — Candidates for the Board of Education answered questions on mask and vaccine mandates, school programs and issues of transparency with the public.

Democrat Tara Crossley, 40, is a real estate agent who lost when she ran for the board four years ago and wants to give it another go as a mother of two children in the school system. She said the school board already does a "pretty good job," but believes there could be better advertising of board meetings to ensure more parents have an opportunity to provide input.

In regards to masks and vaccine mandates, Crossley said she is comfortable with whatever the government wants although she understands others may see it differently.

Running for a spot on the Board of Education for the first time, Democrat Timothy Shanahan, 58, has served on the town's youth advisory board and volunteered at local fire departments for a long time. He is the treasurer of the Chesterfield Fire Co.

He said he would like to improve the yearly budget and see more transparency within the district, "making sure things aren't swept under the rug."

Currently filling a vacancy on the board, Republican Wills Pike, 63, also is running for Town Council.

Pike said he would push to upgrade the district's computer and information technology systems, developing a plan to invest half a million dollars to make sure students have adequate resources.

Pike said the schools should continue to follow state mandates on masks or else face liability should there be any consequences of not doing so.

The current chairman of the board, Democrat Sandra Berardy, 79, is a retired advanced practice nurse and had two kids who grew up and were educated in Montville. She said she is interested in the continution of safety programs and the introduction of new programs that improve technology and internet broadband.

Berardy said she does not think the board has issues of transparency with the public, adding that the members are at the meetings to take public comments into discussion.

Newcomer Tina Grove, 66, a Republican, is a former Navy official and professor at Goodwin University in East Hartford. Grove said in July she hopes to use her background and doctorate in education to keep Montville at "the forefront of education."

Democrat Grace Carlos, 21, graduated Montville High School in 2018. She is studying political science at Three Rivers Community College, has interned in the lieutenant governor's office and hosts a podcast with the town's youth services in which she interviews local and state leaders on youth-related topics.

Carlos said she is "excited" about the start of state-required Black and Latino studies at the high school and added that there is always room for improvement when it comes to transparency.

"I feel working on new ways to share information in timely and effective manner will strengthen the communication and relationship our board has with our community," she said.

Democrat John Desjardins, 54, has been on the Planning and Zoning Commission since 2008. He said it was a good start but he wants to be more active in the community. Havine spent 26 years in the military, he said he has a "holistic" philosophy in regards to education and feels strongly that students should have a well-rounded education.

Republican Florence Turner, 50, could not be reached for this article. According to the Republican Town Committee website, she has resided in Montville for the past 36 years and has worked at the town's transfer station for the past 19 years. She has a child and a grandchild in the school system.

She "believes that educating our children is an enormous responsibility and two-thirds of the town budget," the site reads.

Running for Board of Assessment Appeals are Democrat Gary Murphy and Republican Richard Cenami. For the Zoning Board of Appeals, the candidates are John MacNeil, a Democrat and chairman of the board, and Republicans Alfred J. Mandler and Vincent Atwater-Young.

Mandler, who also is running for Town Council, said if elected to the ZBA, he would "make informed decisions based on what the town has and needs."

j.vazquez@theday.com

Editor's Note: John MacNeil, who is running for a position on the Zoning Board of Appeals, is not a newcomer. He is chairman of the board.

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