Shelton Board of Education candidate: Kathy Yolish

Kathy Yolish

Kathy Yolish

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Party: Republican

Are you an incumbent? Yes. Elected to six terms/12 years on the board.

Current Job: BOE Chairperson; 35-year retired shelton educator

Volunteering background: In school volunteer at LHS for seven years; volunteer teacher for JA in a day; guest reader for Read Across America; reader in preschool grades; educational writer tor Shelton Life publications for 16 years; parishioner of St. Margaret Mary and St. Lawrence Parishes; Shelton Dog Park founding Committee member and annual sponsor of fundraisers to support the Shelton Animal Shelter with my fur baby, Kinzy Bean, (donating more than $25,000 in monies and $5,000 in food and supplies over a 12-year period).

Education: BS, Sacred Heart University (English and Education 1-8); MS, Southern Connecticut State University (Reading).

Previous Offices Held: Chairman of Policy; Vice Chair of Teaching and Learning; Chairman of Ad Hoc Committee for successful implementation of full day Kindergarten Program in SPS; Board Liaison for Shelton Education Association.

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

As an incumbent my focus will continue to build on all of the accomplishments made during the last two years-financial accountability, alignment with the mayor and city officials and advocacy for the students, teachers, administrators and support staff. We have accomplished a working relationship with City officials in establishing an operating budget that supports our needs and enhances educational opportunities. With additional COVID relief funding we were not only able to update our technology needs, purchase laptops for our staff, chrome books for our students but also address well overdue, new curriculum to our educational system in literacy and numeracy.

Budgeting and curriculum are key components of our BOE job, but now we need to also address learning recovery and the social/ emotional concerns due to the effects of the pandemic on our children.

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

The topic of SSTS is a very complex situation complicated by the pandemic/ COVID issues. The transportation issue is not simply Shelton’s problem but it is a concern throughout the state and the country. There are transportation issues with industries, cargo, and even the airlines. Driver shortages are everywhere and not only in school districts. I feel that as Board Chair I have worked with the Superintendent to address as many issues as presented. I also reestablished the Transportation/ Buildings & Grounds Committee under the chairmanship of John Fitzgerald to work collaboratively with the City Bus Director, Ken Nappi. They are in daily communication with each other and our Superintendent. Additionally, daily logs are being kept so that key issues can be addressed and rectified. One other positive step was finding the monies to bring a customer service coordinator to our Central Office to work in concert with the Bus Company. The positive aspects obviously include the cost to the BOE, the locked in price for propane until 2023, and the fact that the drivers now have a contract through 2023. This weighs heavily when going out to bid because contracting with another company would mean that we will have to pay for buses, higher propane costs as well as possible technology updates-which SSTS is bringing into the school system within months. Obviously there will be many factors to consider when looking at the transportation contract. I will due my due diligence and weigh the pros and cons and collaboratively work with all board members to do what is the best and safest option for our school system and our children who rely on being transported to and from school. Of course, fiscal responsibility will also play a key role in the decision making process.

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?

The relationship between the BOE, Mayor and Aldermen is paramount to the success of our school system. Open dialogue, communication, transparency, and planned joint meetings have helped bridge a much stronger relationship than in years past. Collaborative relationships are based on trust and respect which both sides must adhere to, and I believe that this has been accomplished under my leadership as well as each of the other board members assistance and cooperation. A board that behaves contentiously is not likely to build credibility among community leaders or enlist them as partners in the school system’s success. This year’s budget was one that we were able to support with the help of the Superintendent, Chief Operating Officer and the Leadership team of Central Office as well as the infusion of the ESSER grant funds we received. There will always be needs and wants but I think we’re in a better place with our City relationship and I look forward to continue building on the collaborative partnership we’ve established. Together we can continue moving SPS in the right direction. I am proud of the efforts we have made thus far and will continue to work to keep that open dialogue between the Superintendent, the BOE, the Mayor and Aldermen open, transparent, responsible and accountable.