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Meet the Candidates: Merrill Kidd

Republican running for the Board of Education.

Name: Merrill Kidd

Age: 48

Party, Position Seeking: Republican running for the Manchester Board of Education.

Family information: Manchester resident for over 18 years. Married to Andy Kidd with four children, Alycia, Bill, Michelle and Michael.

Occupation: Homemaker.

Political Experience: No elected office experience but active in the Manchester Republican Town Committee.

Other Experience: Keeney School PTA President 2002-03; Manchester Town-wide PTA President 2003-07; Connecticut PTA Regional Director 2003-07; Connecticut PTA Board of Directors 2003-07; Connecticut PTA Legislative Committee 2007-09; Chair, Manchester Human Relations Commission 2007-10; Manchester Board of Education Community Conversations; Manchester Board of Education Achievement Award.

Why did you run for office?

I have always been concerned about the quality and cost of our educational system in Manchester. I believe there are workable solutions available that will enhance student achievement and lower the cost of education in the Manchester School System. I would like to see our students exceed the state and national achievement average, achieve nearly 100 percent graduation rates, and do so at a reasonable and responsible cost to the taxpayer.

Another important issue is the real, as well as perceived, safety problems in our schools. We are not setting the right policies, enforcing the policies we have, or holding the right parties responsible. The safety of the students is the responsibility of the entire administration including the Board of Education. The Board of Education should insure the right policies are in place, the right training is provided to administration and staff, and all parties are held accountable. The goal is to have all parents to not think twice about sending their children to a Manchester school.

If elected, what would be your primary areas of focus?

1) Hire a new school superintendant after establishing the right qualifications and experience needed for Manchester.
2) Insure we are doing everything possible to provide a safe and responsible school environment.
3) Establish, with the new superintendant, a strategic plan for the future

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing Manchester today?

If I had to choose my biggest issue regarding our schools it would be lack of planning for the future. We are in tactical reactionary mode when we need to be more strategic and proactive. We must plan further than a year or two ahead and we can’t continue to do things the way we have for the past 50 or 100 years. The changing times dictate we need to change the way we do things. I am not seeing that with the current administration or BOE. Increasing the budget by a few percent (up or down) a year isn’t going to change anything substantial. We need to aggressively look at new ways to be efficient with our staff, facilities and must embrace new technologies. This may include using distant learning methods and technologies, replacing paper texts with ebooks, or combining services with the town to lower facilities and equipment costs. Maybe we can’t afford 10 elementary schools for the long term? But itcould be that “neighborhood schools” are what define us? Honestly, I don’t know for sure, but we need to study our options, have hard data to build and support a long term plan, and be ready, willing and able to change the way we do things.

What skills do you have that you could bring to the community?

I feel I can bring fresh ideas and positive solutions to Manchester if elected to the Board of Education. I have lived in Manchester for over 18 years and been involved in education and civic activities since 1998. I have long worked for positive change in Manchester having served in various leadership positions, including Manchester town-wide PTA President, various CT State PTA positions, and the Chairman of the Manchester Human Relations commission. For these reasons I feel I am qualified to serve the residents of Manchester on their Board of Education.

Nutmegger November 08, 2011 at 11:28 PM
I don't understand how people don't see the importance of neighborhood schools, especially when so much of our identity is town is based on those institutions. As a young adult, I find that whenever I meet someone else from town, the very first question that comes up is, "Which school?" When people with children meet, the same question comes up again. There is so much neighborhood pride in our schools, and they really helps us form our neighborhood (and, by extension, town) sense of identity. Most candidates this year agree we're not doing enough to hang onto our sense of town pride, so why get rid of one of the first things we all cite as points of pride and identity? Our elementary schools are rallying points, even for people without families or with children long-since grown, and they need to be preserved and boosted. I was ready to vote Kidd until she frightened me off with that. Sometimes it's not about data in politics and governance; sometimes it's about emotional pulls.

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