SOUTHBURY — The Board of Selectmen, meeting Thursday, September 3, addressed tax relief programs for seniors and veterans.

First Selectman Jeff Manville noted that the enrollment period begins February 1. He anticipates an ordinance will be ready for board review at its next meeting.

The board weighed the choice of requiring residents to wait one or three years before being eligible to participate.

A task force had determined that Southbury is one of the few towns implementing a three-year wait period.

Mr. Manville advocated for supporting people who had been residents for a period of time to balance aid because, according to him, Southbury is one of the most generous towns in comparison to other municipalities.

In his report to the board, Mr. Manville announced the audit is complete and he expects to have a compensation package and pension adjustment ready for the board at its next meeting.

Ordinances will also be available at that time for board review.

Referring to a pitch for Pierce Hollow and senior housing there, Mr. Manville said the presentation had gone well with encouraging results.

During public participation, the board heard from Region 15 Board of Education candidates as it considered the appointment that will fill a new vacancy.

Beth Alvarado is a long-time resident and graduate of Pomperaug High School with 20 years of experience in education.

She currently works as director of referrals at Post University and as a professor there and at Western Connecticut State University. “What I’d like to do is take the budget we are given every year and figure out ways that we can improve on the great school system we already have. There’s always room for improvement.”

Erin Barlow came to Southbury when she was in high school, leaving to further her education before returning as a resident.

She currently works for Cooperative Educational Services as an instructional specialist to support math teachers. “I would like to serve on the Board of Education because it’s what I know best and it’s how I can best give back to my community. I have an understanding for special education as both an educator and as a parent. I have helped districts implement new curriculum with stringent funding.”

Janet Butkus has lived in Southbury for more than 30 years and is a registered nurse with master’s in psychology who has been a Board of Education member.

She noted her work with the Board of Finance and pointed out that her intent would be to fill the vacancy only until the next election.

Audrey Deroin is a project manager and eight-year resident with experience on several boards, saying she knows how to make the hard decisions of where and how to cut expenses because the community is multi-generational and there must be a balance in taxes.

She said, “I would like to be more involved in the initiatives that benefit and support our Region 15 children,” before suggesting that her presence could foster relationships with the thousands of minority residents.

Steve Giacomi has a bachelor’s degree in finance with an MBA from the University of Connecticut, spending the last decade as a high school business teacher, helping to develop curriculum.

He has also served on Waterbury’s Board of Alderman where he developed a reputation for fiscal responsibility before moving to Southbury six months ago. “I saw this as a perfect opportunity… to help Southbury and Region 15 continue to maintain one of the best school districts that exists.”

Joshua Houseman wants to contribute his 30-year background in education, with a bachelor’s degree in Russian and Spanish and a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language and a graduate certificate in applied behavioral analysis.

He has lived in Southbury since 2011, commenting that his daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, loves school. “I will be able to help the Board of Education maintain their in-class learning and also their online learning as well as help to transition students will special needs.”

Kim McGuinness, dean of students at Housatonic Community College, is a lifelong educator with 22 years of experience.

She moved to Southbury a year and a half ago and she has a long history of volunteering. “I’ve served on many boards and I also have a strong background in budgets, curriculum, needs of students.”

Thomas Marks has lived in town for 15 years and has experience as a strategic planner and creative problem solver who has studied educational philosophy and holds an academic minor in teacher’s education.

While he didn’t pursue a career in education after teaching at the secondary level, he said he can relate to teachers. “If I’ve learned anything from my volunteer experience here in town, it’s that there is no longer such a thing as a popular decision. I’ve worked to find common ground and elevate discourse.”

William Ollayos is a longtime resident who would like to give back to the community by creating fiscally responsible strategies, earning his bachelor’s degree at UConn and master’s degree at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

He currently works with the Office of Residential Life at Wesleyan University, where he has managed the budget for 750 students and is currently applying to a Ph.D. program with the College of Education at UMass. “I am therefore both prepared and excited to utilize my experiences and skills to serve on the Region 15 Board of Education.”

Carl Strange is a 16-year resident who recently ended a 40-year career as a teacher; he taught in his native state of South Carolina before moving to Alaska and then to Connecticut with his wife.

He taught online at the University of Alaska for the last 11 of a 30-year career there and was a member of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges evaluation team at Ledyard. “Teaching civics, political science for many years, I’ve always told students that the most important votes they cast are the local ones, never mind the attention that the national votes get.” 

Interviews with each candidate will be scheduled on September 14, 16 and 17.

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