Schools chief in center of battle
ANSONIA — Though there is a contingent of parents unhappy with Superintendent of Schools Carol Merlone’s recent handling of the district budget crisis, there also are many in the school chiefs’ corner.
That became evident Wednesday when a petition containing nearly 300 signatures in support of Merlone was gathered by 2015 Ansonia High School graduate Brian Perkins.
Perkins’ petition came a day after parent Jeremy Musnicki submitted a petition with more than 150 signatures to the Board of Aldermen Tuesday, asking them to support a vote of no confidence in Merlone.
Aldermen cannot invoke such an action, however; only the Board of Education can do that. Perkins plans to submit the petition to the school board, as well as the aldermen.
Perkins said as a former student who went through the Ansonia school system, he felt compelled to speak out in support of Merlone, regarding the recent budget crisis that pitted the Board of Education and the city against one another.
The crisis was resolved in court earlier this week, with the city agreeing to give the school board $500,000 to enable the district to make payroll and keep schools open to meet the state-mandated 180 days.
Merlone last week had said schools were in danger of having to close early because there wasn’t enough money to pay staff and keep the doors open. Musnicki criticized what he called those scare tactics, and said it’s time for a new face and fresh perspective to lead the district.
Perkins said his experience in Ansonia schools was a positive one, and knows “firsthand the passion that Dr. Carol Merlone has for her students and for her profession.
“When I was in eighth grade, I was awarded the CAPSS Superintendent’s Student Award. From there on, Dr. Merlone and I stayed in regular contact, and she was quick to hear my concerns within the district and address them,” Perkins said. “Her professionalism is beyond reproach. I love my city and I love where I came from, and this kind of hatred and animosity towards education and educators is not what this city represents.”
Perkins said he believes Merlone is “being scapegoated” by the city’s administration, and said his petition is a way to defend her.
A friend of Perkins, resident Sennea Raslan, started a petition of her own last week, which now has more than
175 signatures. The petition was aimed at Raslan’s and other residents’ dissatisfaction in the aldermen’s “fiscally irresponsible budget” and the city trying to “wrongfully seize $600,000” from the school budget.
Merlone said Wednesday she welcomed the support.
“I appreciate and thank all parents, students — present and former — staff, the community and all those who stand up for making a brighter future for Ansonia Public School students,” Merlone said. “They are our future. I am a very strong person because of my faith. I believe that everyone has a purpose in life and will meet their maker someday. My purpose is and always has been to do whatever it takes to give Ansonia Public Schools children an opportunity for a better future..