Malloy nominates education board to help implement his reforms

A week after outlining the major education reforms he intends to launch, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nominated the eight people he wants to lead the way on the State Board of Education.

“I’m confident they can help set the standards needed to bring our students to the top,” Malloy said in a statement Friday announcing his nominees to the State Board of Education.

These eight nominees will join the three other members on the board — whose terms expire in February 2013 — at their first meeting Wednesday. One nominee is already on the board and is being nominated to a new term. The new members, if confirmed by state legislators, will be appointed to four year terms.

Allan B. Taylor will remain chairman of the board until Malloy names who he would like to lead the board.

Education has been one of Malloy’s most talked about subjects — spending almost one-quarter of the time during his budget address to talk about education and the reforms that are needed.

“We can’t maintain the status quo, and everyone in this chamber knows it,” he told state lawmakers.

Malloy said he wants to reform teacher tenure to give schools flexibility when facing layoff decisions, reform the funding formula in how the state spends money on education, increase school choice funding to comply with a federal court order and transfer responsibility of the state’s vocational-technical schools to local municipalities and regional panels.

In addition to being in charge of leading the way on these reforms, the state board is also responsible for nominating the next education commissioner. The legislature and Malloy will then be responsible for approving that nominee. Former education commissioner Mark McQuillan stepped down from the post in December and George A. Coleman, who has been at the department for years, is the interim commissioner until the new board makes their decision.

State Department of Education Spokesman Thomas Murphy said it typically takes two or three months for a nominee to be announced once the new board is in place. Malloy has said he wants a national search to be conducted to fill the job.

Malloy’s nominees for the State Board of Education:

Ellen Camhi is a former elementary public school teacher in New York and Connecticut.  She has been active in Stamford politics for more than 40 years, serving as an elected member of the Stamford Board of Education for four terms, including three years as its president.  She has served on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, is a former Realtor, small business owner and previously worked as an education consultant.

Charles A. Jaskiewicz, III works for Pfizer, Inc. as a Regulatory Manager focused on early product development. He currently serves as chairman of the Norwich Board of Education, where he has been a member since 2003.  Having received a degree in nursing from the University of Connecticut, Jaskiewicz has worked both as a registered nurse and a paramedic.

Terry H. Jones has extensive experience in agriculture, having been a life-long resident of the Jones Family Farms in Shelton, where four generations of farmers have worked the fields and forests prior to him.  He has run his family farm business since high school in 1960 and, with the help of his wife Jean, has expanded the farm to 400 acres.

Patricia Keavney-Maruca retired after serving 33 years with the Connecticut Technical High School system, having worked at W.F. Kaynor Technical High School in Waterbury, and as vice president of the State Vocational Federation of Teachers.  She is an executive council member of the American Federation of Teachers-Connecticut, president of the Board of Directors of the Waterbury Day Nursery, and is a volunteer pre-school teacher aide at St. Peter and Paul Pre-School in Waterbury.

Estela López is a Senior Program Advisor with Excelencia in Education.  She is the former vice chancellor of academic affairs at CSU, serving from 2002 to 2007.  From 1997 to 2002, she served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern Illinois University.  She earned both a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Spanish literature from Columbia University.

Ferdinand L. Risco, Jr. is an Inclusion and Diversity Manager with Metro North, where he has worked since 2004.  He is a current member of the New Haven Board of Education.  Previously, he worked in supervising positions at both Pepsi-Cola Bottling Group and Airborne Express.  He served in the U.S. Army from 1995 to 2000, and received a Master of Business Administration from the University of New Haven in 2009.

Joseph J. Vrabely, Jr. was appointed as an interim member of the State Board of Education by Governor M. Jodi Rell in 2010.  He is president and co-owner of Atlantic Steel & Processing LLC, a company he started in 2000.  He currently serves as a board member and trustee of the Precision Metalforming Association’s Educational Foundation, is a member of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, and is the past president of the Smaller Manufacturers’ Association.

Stephen P. Wright has served as an attorney at Harlow, Adams & Friedman, P.C. in Milford since 1999.  He currently serves as a member of the Trumbull Board of Education, as chairman of the Trumbull Special Needs Preschool Building Committee, and as co-area director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education.