NEW BRITAIN - Residents were given a chance to meet this yearâ€™s Board of Education candidates Monday night at an â€śEat, Meet and Greetâ€ť event organized by the New Britain Area League of Women Voters.
The six candidates vying for five seats joined potential voters at Trinity-On-Main to enjoy a pasta dinner and discuss their views on education in New Britain. After the meal, candidates introduced themselves and answered questions on topics such as how the cityâ€™s schools can better retain students from leaving for a magnet school.
Mallory Deprey, a Republican-endorsed Democratic incumbent, said magnet schools market directly to students and parents what they can provide. Deprey said the district has been working to improve its own marketing plan.
â€śI believe that since Superintendent (Nancy) Sarra has come on, we have made major improvements in our communication and marketing in our schools to highlight some of our successes,â€ť Deprey said.
Incumbent Republican Nicholas Mercier, the boardâ€™s president, said the schools have not followed up on what they were intended to do, though, even though they get a disproportionate amount of funding from the state.
â€śTheyâ€™re not really even delivering on their promise, which was to desegregate Hartford schools, which was to improve the quality of education in the state. Instead itâ€™s created a huge drain on communities,â€ť Mercier said.
Incumbent Democrat Daisy Sanchez said she leads by example by discussing with fellow parents the potential of New Britainâ€™s schools.
â€śWhen anyone says anything negative, I just tell them my daughter is there, she excels very well in honors classes and I know the teachers, the administrators, and I speak very highly of them,â€ť said Sanchez, who has a daughter in seventh grade at Pulaski Middle School.
Violet Sims, endorsed by the Democrats, said the school district should do more to keep programs and curriculums that attract students.
â€śIt attracts people to have a variety of things. In recent years, New Britain removed a lot of the specialty programs that people liked. We have to bring things like that back if we want our people back,â€ť she said.
On the question of budget cuts, Republican-endorsed Nancy Rodriguez emphasized the need to prevent the loss of paraprofessionals.
â€śTheyâ€™re in the trenches,â€ť Rodriguez said. â€śThey are making differences in the lives of these children.â€ť
On minority teacher recruitment, Democratic-endorsed Annie S. Parker spoke of the importance of having minority talent officers encourage other members of minorities to come to the city to teach.
â€śIâ€™m not saying that white people canâ€™t recruit black people, but I am saying that people want to see people that look like themselves when being recruited to go somewhere,â€ť Parker said.
The municipal election is Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.