Schools chief in cen­ter of bat­tle

New Haven Register (New Haven, CT) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Jean Falbo-Sos­novich

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..

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