Shelton Board of Education candidate: Kate Kutash

Kate Kutash

Kate Kutash

Contributed photo

Party: Democrat

Are you an incumbent? Running for sixth term, have served on the BOE for 10 years

Current job: Retired teacher, taught at the elementary level for 43 years in Stratford

Volunteering background, if any: Kate was involved in PTAs at all levels, including as PTA Council President and was an active band and drama parent.

Education: Kate is a graduate of Western Connecticut State College and SCSU, with BS, MS and sixth year degrees in Education.

Previous offices held: Kate was first elected to the BOE in 2009. In that time she has been chair of the Policy Committee and is currently acting Chair. She is a member of the Teaching and Learning Committee and in the past served as Chair of Cafeteria and Transportation Committee. She frequently has been a member of negotiation teams for contracts with several unions and participated in the interview process for many major administrative positions. Before her involvement with Board of Education, Kate was an officer with the Marching Gaels Band Parents Association, was PTA Council President for several years and was President of the ESS PTA.

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

Kate is one of only two current Board members with teaching experience and can relate to classroom challenges over the past year. As a teacher and a parent, Kate understands the concerns of Shelton’s teachers, parents and students. Kate strongly supports Fine Arts and is especially dedicated to expanding involvement in the music programs grades 5-12 and expanding music course opportunities at the high school. She will continue to work to maintain and improve upon the quality education currently offered to Shelton students and to publicly recognize their achievements. As a lifelong educator, Kate will always have interest in curriculum, particularly at the elementary level, as well as insuring teachers have what they need to deliver quality education.

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?

The biggest issue facing the BOE that will be seated in November will be the next bus contract, as our current three year contract with the city expires in June. There are those that say this alliance has saved the BOE money. However the city “bus company” has not been forthcoming with line by line detail on the costs they have incurred to run the buses in the last three years. They are frequently missing runs, sporting events and students. We are faced with an aging fleet of buses about whose maintenance many question. The entire three years have been plagued by a lack of communication and transparency. I feel when we go out to bid in January, we need to not only consider the proposed costs by bidders but the quality of service and of vehicles to transport our students. A “city run bus company” may not be in the best interests of our pockets, or of providing reliable, safe transportation to our students.

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?

It is no secret that the schools have been short changed for years. We have been doing more with less since before I first joined the BOE 12 years ago. Every year we make cuts when we are flat funded or minimally increased. Updates in technology were long postponed and only made possible this year by the America Cares Act. While some enhancements have been taken on by the city as capital requests, they were hard fought gains. We need new faces at City Hall who are willing to work with the BOE and realize what today’s students need more of to be successful. We have made gains in relationships in the last year, but it remains to be seen after Election Day who we will need to strengthen relationships with or who we will form an initial relationship with.

All candidates can also respond about their reasons for running, time they have lived in the city, and why they are best for the role.

I am a 25-year resident of Shelton. As a recently retired teacher, I can relate to classroom challenges over the past year. As one of only two Board members with teaching experience, I understand the concerns of Shelton’s teachers, parents and students. Education was my career two thirds of my life and is my passion. What better way to continue my passion past retirement. I have so much more time to give now.