NewCanaanite.com recently received the following letters.
This November New Canaan voters have the opportunity to elect four intelligent, energized, engaged, committed and genuinely nice Republicans to the Board of Education. After serving eight years on the Board of Education, three as chair, one as vice-chair and two as secretary, I think I have a pretty good handle on what it takes to be an effective and fair-minded board member. Dan Bennett, Phil Hogan, Julie Toal and Hugo Alves all fit that description and would make excellent additions to New Canaan’s Board of Education. All four have children in New Canaan Public Schools (NCPS) and are invested for the long haul. All four have established ties to this community through volunteerism. All four have professional backgrounds that would enrich the BOE. All four are committed to engaging with the parent community to ensure their voices are heard and thoughtfully considered.
Times are changing in public education in Connecticut. What I’ve had to consider as a BOE member these past eight years is considerably different than the challenges facing the next generation BOE member. Connecticut’s State Legislature is taking an increasingly hands-on politicized approach to education and not leaving education to the educators. We’ve long grappled with the state legislature’s intrusive efforts over local management of our schools, but this current state legislature is increasing curriculum mandates without consideration for divergent parent views. Dan Bennett, Phil Hogan, Julie Toal and Hugo Alves are committed to keeping the parent voice front and center in NCPS.
Please join me in supporting Dan, Phil, Julie and Hugo. Vote Row “B” for the Board of Education on November 2nd.
I am writing to enthusiastically endorse Erica Schwedel, an experienced and well-qualified candidate running for the Board of Education as a member of the “A Slate” this November 2nd. Moving from another state over 20 years ago, my husband and I sought out a town with an excellent school system, recognizing that good schools also correlate with good property values. When our children were young, we knew that a strong, supportive and flexible school administration was ideal and that the abilities of great teachers to both stimulate a life-long love of learning and to instill critical-thinking skills in their students were paramount.
The third major component of the educational partnership is the local Board of Education, and the place where we, as community members, have a direct influence. Our vote is our voice! The breadth of prior experience and familiarity with our school system cannot be overstated when selecting members for the Board of Education.
Erica Schwedel would bring not only her deep resume and her passion for education, but many other desirable attributes as well.
Erica and I have worked closely together as part of the New Canaan Community Foundation team. Several years ago, we co-chaired the Annual Appeal, the major fundraiser for the Foundation, and we have collaborated on several other committees during the last few years. She believes in giving back and in improving our community and is always willing to step up where she sees a need. In fact, in recognition of her leadership skills and other talents, she was recently elected to the Board of Directors.
It is always a delight to work with Erica. As a Princeton undergrad with an MBA from Wharton, it is a given that she will bring her intelligence and analytical skills to any project. But Erica’s integrity, strength of character, high energy and positive and magnetic personality are the intangibles that make her an asset to any team. She is a listener and a collaborator.
Erica has a long-standing commitment to education, beginning in her professional career where she specialized in consulting and education at Bain & Company, IBM, Achievement First (a network of public charter schools), and at a private family foundation focused on public school education in Connecticut.
In her private life as a mom and New Canaan resident, she has been the West School PTC Co- President, as well as the West School VP -Parent Education and member of the Outdoor Learning Center Committee, Young Women’s League, and the New Canaan Cares Parent Representative Board. Erica Schwedel is highly experienced and cares deeply about children and their education, as evidenced by both her professional and personal pursuits in this realm.
If you believe that the New Canaan Public School system should continue to put the interests of the child first, that we should endeavor to both maintain and improve upon the superior quality of our local educational institutions, and that great schools make for great towns, then it is vitally important that you vote on November 2nd. There will be no make-up exam, so please mark your calendars now and plan to vote for Erica Schwedel and the rest of the “A Slate.” The slate will be easy to remember, for in education, “A“ always stands for excellence.
I am writing in support of Kimberly Norton, a Republican candidate for Town Council. Kimberly’s professional background and experience as a Forensic Psychologist who worked for the NYPD, as well as someone who supports maintaining our historic and natural landscape brings an expertise needed on the Town Council. Kimberly is a co-founder and proponent of the Student Data Privacy Act, served as a BOE Committee Chair /volunteer is a mother to school age kids, making her uniquely qualified to contribute and enhance the Town Council’s perspective and to represent our residents in a unique way. She is a High Honors graduate of Fordham University where she obtained her doctorate and was a Presidential Scholar and teaching fellow.
Kimberly Norton brings an all-around multifaceted background and a level of experience that in a post-COVID environment can give the Council further perspective and contribute to the discussions and decisions before a vote.
As a resident of New Canaan for the past 12 years she is looking at her accomplishments as a starting point and looks forward to the positive difference she can make in representing all the voters in our town.
I am impressed by her fortitude and tenacity to do and say what needs to be said. She is driven, determined, professional, composed and fearless. That is what makes her the perfect candidate for the Council. Please join me in supporting Kimberly Norton for a seat on Town Council.
Cristina A. Ross
To the Editor:
It is exciting that the new New Canaan Library is scheduled to begin construction today, September 1st. This implies that Centerbrook has completed the construction documents. At the Town Hall meeting on August 5th, it was announced that there would be a ‘value engineering’ exercise and a new plan delivered in December. There should be some clarity about how a project this complicated can commence when the design and budget are still being sussed out.
Based on available drawings, Centerbrook seems to have done a thorough job. They are indeed a great firm. Regardless of where they are in the documentation phases, it appears there is enough information to piece together an accurate budget. Since they are in control of the architecture and interiors as well as managing the engineers, design ambiguity, errors, and omissions should be mitigated. This type of vertically integrated structuring of the design team is to the credit of the Library Board and should reduce risk. However, the project is still over budget. It is disingenuous to say that earlier budgets were based on incomplete designs, as Library Board consultants have. The design hasn’t changed in a while except for how to memorialize the 1913 Library. Furthermore if construction is starting, then the construction documents should have enough detail and data to give hard numbers to each line item.
In 2020, I did some rough calculations based on similar building typologies. In full disclosure, I am not a professional estimator. The order of magnitude for the global budget of the new library should have been around 42 to 47 million dollars. Global budgets typically include the value of the land, the subsurface and civil work, the infrastructure, the core and shell construction, the interiors, the furniture, fixtures, and equipment, landscaping, contingencies, and all soft costs. Adjusted for inflation and the supply chain issues that we’re currently experiencing (despite media reports material and labor costs are not in rapid decline) the building could be 45 to 50 million dollars. The project could be done for 38 million with major cuts to the scope or a complete overhaul of the design.
I write this letter acknowledging that many intelligent and earnest people have worked very hard over a long time on this endeavor. They understand its nuances better than me. I also acknowledge that I would like to be wrong here. I am in support of moving the library forward. I am also in support of the Library Board managing fiduciary expectations better. If the global budget of the new New Canaan Library is actually 20% to 25% more than the previous budget, it would be prudent to understand that now. That said, if there were ever good reason to spend 50 million dollars, then this would be it.