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Monday, January 2, 2012

WALLINGFORD – The week ahead

As published in the Record Journal Monday January 2, 2012
WALLINGFORD —The Town Council will hold a special meeting today (Monday, January 2, 2012) to swear in new members and to hold an election for chairman. Town Council, 8 p.m., auditorium, Town Hall, 45 S. Main St.
Tuesday : Public Utilities Commission, 6:30 p.m., Electric Division, 100 John St.
Wednesday: Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Commission, 7 p.m. Town Hall, Room 315, 45 S. Main St.
Thursday: No meetings scheduled.
Friday: No meetings scheduled.

Wallingford school board: Welcome Back Patrick Reynolds

As published in the Record Journal, Tuesday December 27, 2011

Reynolds glad to be back after defeat in 2009

By Russell Blair
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2225

WALLINGFORD — After two years off the Board of Education, Patrick Reynolds is eager to rejoin the panel he was first elected to in 2007.

Reynolds, a Democrat, served on the board for one term before he lost his re-election bid in 2009. This time around, Reynolds said he plans to be a more active participant. “I’m going to be a bit more vocal,” he said. “I sat back my first term because it was all new to me. I want to free up my schedule to offer my services for some more committees.”

Reynolds, 58, teaches science at New Britain High School, Central Connecticut State University and Tunxis Community College. While there are no specific burning issues he wants to see addressed, Reynolds said it’s important to make sure that Wallingford’s students continue to be hard workers.

“I’m behind 21st-century technology, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” he said. “We need to make sure our young people have a 20th or 19th-century work ethic.”

Reynolds said that as a college professor he’s seen students show up for class unprepared or not show up at all. While he doesn’t see this as a specific problem in Wallingford, he wants to make sure that doesn’t become the case.

“It’s everybody’s responsibility to make sure students come to school and that homework is done on time,” he said. Reynolds said he’s happy with the education that his family has received from the town, but added that “there’s still work that needs to be done.”

As a member of the school board that hired School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo, Reynolds said he was also looking forward to working with the administrator.

“I’m looking forward to working with Menzo,” Reynolds said. “We’ve been in touch since the election and I’m looking forward to sitting down and talking with him.”

Among the first tasks for Reynolds and the Board of Education will be the 2012-13 school budget. A workshop scheduled for Jan. 9 will be the first time the panel gets a look at Menzo’s proposal.

“I think the last few budgets have gone as smooth as you can get,” Reynolds said. “I know as a board we have to really watch the pennies, from the administrators down to the department heads and the teachers.”

Roxane McKay, the Republican vice chairwoman, said she is looking forward to working with Reynolds again.

“He’s a good guy, and he brings a nice perspective being in the education world,” she said. “He’s very thoughtful and hard-working. He gets all the facts before he makes a decision; he does his homework.”

Kathy Castelli, a Democrat, said she is excited to have Reynolds back.

“He has great perspective,” she said. “He’s so involved with education. He helped me to broaden my own perspective.”

Reynolds said there is a good group on the school board, and that the panel isn’t overly political. He said he is looking forward to rejoining the members he previously worked with.

“I liked the people,” he said. “You couldn’t tell the Republicans from the Democrats. There were no personality conflicts, it was all for the kids.”

Though he could have called it quits after losing his re-election bid, Reynolds said that he still had a desire to serve.

“I grew up in Wallingford, my daughters went through the school system and my grandsons are in it,” he said. “I wanted to give something back.”


Wallingford school board: Welcome Christine Mansfield

As published in the Record Journal, Tuesday December 27, 2011

Mansfield: Budget is school board’s No. 1 priority

By Ibrahim Hirsi
Record-Journal staff
(203) 317-2224

WALLINGFORD — When Christine Mansfield ran for public office for the first time in November, she got the second- most votes, winning a seat on the Board of Education.

“It was a dream come true,” said Mansfield, 42, a Republican. “I wanted to run for office. I have the ability to bring people together. I can instantly work with people across the aisles.”

Even though Republican Town Committee Chairman Bob Prentice doesn’t know Mansfield well and hasn’t worked with her in the past, he noted that “everyone likes her.”

“I am very excited to see that she is involved in the local politics,” Prentice added. “She is going to be a great asset to the Board of Ed.”

President and chief executive officer of a technology training company in Wallingford, Discovery Training Services, Mansfield said she will bring her work experience to the school board by building on technological advancements and partnering with businesses and the community to give students some real world experience.

“Focusing on our needs to educate kids in the foundation including reading, literacy, math and critical thinking skills” is important, Mansfield said, adding that those skills can be enhanced by technology.

“I’ve done it for private schools all over the map. And now I get the chance to do it as a board member.”

While the district may be facing another year of low growth in its budget due to a sluggish local economy, Mansfield said a better school system is possible with better money management.

“We have got experience, we’ve got people in place, we’ve got money, we know the needs, and we have to spend as wisely as we can against aging facilities,” Mansfield said.

The budget is the biggest issue before the board this year, Mansfield said, and the first one it needs to tackle.

Federal and state funds used for special education programs just aren’t there anymore, Mansfield said.

“When you look at the funding models that are in place, the superintendent never gets 100 percent of the fund, the district never gets it, and the town never gets it. You just don’t have enough money,” Mansfield said.

Mansfield, a mother of three, said she could see that the board needed her and that’s why she decided to jump on the campaign trail only two days before the deadline to apply for the board member position.

“It wasn’t to be the leader,” she said. “It was to play a role I dreamed of, and I won.”

But the victory was only possible because of extremely hard work and organization, said Mansfield, who shared debate stages with veteran politicians including incumbents Michael Brooder, Joe Marrone, Chet Miller, Roxane McKay from her party, as well as Democrats Jay Cei, Kathy Castelli, Michael J. Votto and Patrick Reynolds.

“It was a lot of work and bringing a lot of people and a lot of good ideas together in a very short period of time,” Mansfield said.

Mansfield is very intelligent and very civic-minded, Prentice said. “She is heavily involved with the kids and church. I hope she will stay involved.”

Mansfield said the campaign was a learning experience.

“It was amazing to meet so many people and eye-opening to hear so many voices in different needs and people so rudely wanting to tell you everything that you can do to change something,” she said.

Mansfield’s 7-year-old daughter and 9- and 11-yearold sons don’t attend public schools, instead attending Holy Trinity School, a Catholic school in town. Mansfield said she noticed that some voters have issues with that.

Her decision, she said, is “by no means to disservice the public school system. It was a decision I made when I was pregnant with the first child. I wanted them to have a piece of faith in this world.”