Shelton Board of Education candidate: Carl Rizzo

Carl Rizzo

Carl Rizzo

Contributed photo

Party: Republican

Are you an incumbent? (if yes, how many years in office): Yes, running for a second term on the BOE. (2 years)

Current job: Fujifilm Healthcare Americas Ultrasound National Technical Support and Instructor

Volunteering background, if any: Coached softball, baseball, football, soccer and basketball. Vice President of Little League for 20 years, President of Shelton Travel baseball for five years

Education: Degrees in Electrical Engineering & Information Technology, MCSE, Microsoft Certified Profession + Internet

Previous offices held: BOE, Vice Chair of Finance, Vice-Chair of Teaching and Learning.

If elected, what will be your primary focus — budget, curriculum, another topic?

I don’t believe any of these items can be focused on in a vacuum. The responsibility of the Board is to provide an excellent education within the confines of the budget we are given. This includes curriculum, technology, competitive teacher’s salaries, etc. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered how school districts operate, creating additional financial commitments to all future budgets in order to maintain the adaptations we made to educate remotely. This includes maintaining the personal laptops (Chromebooks) that were provided to every student and keeping our curriculum current. I commit to responsibly maintaining the high education standards we have set within the budget we are given to work with.

What is your stance on the city-run bus company? A positive or negative for the school district, and what would your stance be when time to go back to bid/negotiate with the city?

It is difficult to fairly judge the performance of the bus company in this climate given the shortage of qualified bus drivers communities across the state and country are experiencing. The pandemic has affected every facet of life, and our busing system was no exception. When coupling this challenge with expected hiccups from the transition to a city-run system, its fair to say that parents and students have faced some frustrations. Over the long term, however, I think the city’s efforts will bear fruit. The investments made in new technologies and software will dramatically improve the transportation experience by bringing more predictability, safety and peace of mind to everyone who relies on a city school bus. In addition, I have also seen, first hand how hard the bus company works every day. Some of these employees have been driving busses in Shelton for over 20 years.

Further, the city’s decision to take over management of busing is saving more than $1 million per year. With that said, safety and reliability remain key. As we near the end of this first era of a city-run system and solicit bids from the city and other bus companies for the next era, I will weigh all of these factors when deciding on a contract winner. Can a bidding bus company provide quality service at a competitive price? Can the city continue to improve on its service while delivering the same cost savings? Both of these questions will be top-of-mind for me if re-elected, when the Board considers bids.

Your thoughts on the school budget — how it stands now for what is needed in the schools? How would you help to continue better relations between the BOE/mayor/ Aldermen?

I believe our mandate is to present as clear a picture as we can to the BOA as to exactly what our needs are and what is at stake with our funding. To that end, our relationship and trust is everything. I have enjoyed working with the BOA and I have found them to have a real desire to understand our needs. No school system is self-funded. All of our funding comes from taxpayers. Even funding we receive as a result of the pandemic from the state and federal government is, ultimately, from you, the taxpayer. I remind myself of this every day and it plays a central role in every vote I take as a board member. I appreciate the mindset the mayor and BOA take as good stewards of the city’s budget and I take pride in my ability to bring the needs of our students to the table and find consensus on smart, fiscally responsible spending.