Hartford Superintendent Finalists Answer Questions From The Public

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Just two candidates remain in the race to lead Hartford schools, but before a decision is made, community members got the chance to hear from and weigh in on  the two finalists in a nationwide superintendent search.

School board members tell Fox CT they’re trying something different this time around. They held three public forums on Wednesday in an effort to be more transparent to the community in their search for a new top administrator.

They used pre-screened questions from the public,  and parents like Gayle Bieluch listened intently for answers.

“I guess I’m concerned what their top priorities are,” said Bieluch, who said her top priority is getting other parents connected to their child’s educational experience.

“ I think parental involvement is still a huge factor that we need to get parents involved and i’m hoping that will continue and being expanded upon,” Bieluch said.

A nearly packed auditorium at Capital Community College heard from Dr. Beth Narvaez and Dr. Ronald Taylor.  The two finalists for the position were whittled down from 65 applicants, said school board members.

Parent questions included inquiries about accountability, common core standards and special education.

Henry Milner said his 14-year-old daughter excels in school, but he came because he’s worried about her classmates.

“I  watch where they only take the elite and pass them on and if you’re not in the top seats, you’re not being looked at and I have a problem with that,” said Milner.

City teachers too are eager to sort out a perceived inequality issue between magnet, charter and community schools. They grilled the superintendent candidates at a separate forum earlier in the day.

“That the resources are equitable and they get the support that they need because I think if they do that you’ll see a huge change,” said Dr. Carol O’Brien, a teacher.

Members of the corporate and non-profit sectors also got time with Narvaez and Taylor.

Many people, like Tony Mein, who doesn’t even have children left in Hartford schools, appreciate being included in the process of choosing a leader for the city’s future graduates.

“I’ve been interested all along to see what the search committee provided us to take a look at so I think it’s great that two are here,” said Mein.

School board members collected the surveys from everyone who attended Wednesday’s three forums. They ask participants to rate the two superintendent candidates on leadership, communications, community relations, curriculum planning and development for the success of all leaners, instructional management for the success of all learners and human resources management.

An emergency Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Monday, where members will take a final vote on the new superintendent.

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