There are many changes in the North Shore School District, including the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo, who will be succeeded by Interim Superintendent Dr. Thomas Dolan.
And with Board of Education Vice President Tim Madden and Trustee Lisa Vizza, both of whom were elected three years ago, deciding not to run again, that leaves two open seats on the board.
Four candidates are campaigning for them: Lisa Colacioppo, Maria Mosca, Paul Puskuldjian, and Anthony Stanco. The election is May 18.
The Herald contacted the candidates to ask about why they were running, their goals and what they would contribute to the board.
Herald: What inspired you to run?
Lisa Colacioppo: I firmly believe in giving back and serving my community. I’ve been volunteering within the school one way or another since my son was in kindergarten three and a half years ago. For me, this is just the next step of giving back even more and volunteering in an even greater capacity. While I represent all residents, I do think elementary school representation is important, especially in a year when we’re hiring a new superintendent.
Maria Mosca: My husband and I came to this town, like so many other people do, because of the strength of its school district. More recently, I’ve been listening very closely to our Board of Education meetings. I’m really impressed with how well the district is run, and beyond impressed with the education that my daughter is getting. I’d like to be able to make a difference and help influence the tough decisions on issues that the world and our little community face.
Paul Puskuldjian: Over the last number of years, mostly in the last year, I’ve been a little bit disappointed in how the district is spending their money, and it’s very difficult to get concrete answers from the school district.
Anthony Stanco: What inspired me to run is the level of drug use in high school. I don’t think it’s addressed appropriately.
Herald: How would you be an asset to the board?
Colacioppo: My business success and volunteering experience, working collegially with teachers, administrators, parents and community members on various district and school committees is definitely an asset. I am extremely invested in our schools’ long-term success, not just for my child, but also for generations of children to come. I’m also skilled at relationship building, effectively listening and communicating.
Mosca: What I think I can bring to the table is a very strong sense of teamwork, of being a collaborator and listening incredibly well to other people, whether it’s stakeholders in the community or my fellow trustees if I’m lucky enough to be elected. I also have a lifetime of work experience in the educational sphere. I’ve worked for more than 24 years at the university level as an administrator, as an IT support person. I did have several years of budgetary responsibilities in my entire career, so I understand the concepts behind managing a budget.
Puskuldjian: My background is in finance and operations.
Stanco: I was a former teacher and a former youth outreach worker. I also understand contracts really well.
Herald: What would be your main goals for the district if elected?
Colacioppo: I would take my responsibilities very seriously. I think a successful school district is also a fiscally responsible school district. We need to pave the way for success not only now, but for future generations. Another goal is to make sure all stakeholders are part of the discussions in the school district, whether it’s about special education or the budget. I think we need to figure out how to get the community answers to their budget questions even before they arise and communicate the budgeting process in a very clear way.
Mosca: We’re there to listen and balance the needs of all our stakeholders and students and find ways to continue to provide the amazing services that the district is known for and highly valued for.
I am trying not to have a specific agenda of my own. I think that’s not a recipe for being a good trustee. I think representing all parts of our community is key, and that I can’t do that well if I have blinders on because I only want to take care of one or two specific things that I’m concerned about. I want to be the best listener I could be and the best contributor I could be for this entire community.
Puskuldjian: I have a bunch of goals in mind, looking at spending, but also being an advocate for the children that go to the schools here. I love North Shore schools. I’ve been here for a long time, and I believe there is quite an achievement gap in the North Shore School District, and I’d like to see the district close that achievement gap. I think there needs to be more transparency in school budgeting and how the district spends their money. They should really think about it as their money, how they would spend their own money. The school district needs to take into consideration all of the North Shore community, not just the parents who have children in school.
Stanco: I think that we need to improve the programs in such a way as to build very high self-esteem among students. I want to go from a competitive model to a cooperative model. Self-esteem is not built by being better than anybody else or having any more than anyone else.
But real self-esteem is built by having a sense of integrity in your life. We can give that to children starting from kindergarten all the way up, so that by the time they’re approaching problems they face in high school, and the issue of if they’re good enough to be in the advanced group, they can easily choose for themselves what is best.
Herald: Why should the community elect you?
Colacioppo: I care about our schools, about our children and about our community. I would take the responsibility very seriously. I think we face very serious financial pressures, and at the same time we must ensure that the children of today and the children of the future will have what we know and what we value as a North Shore education.
Mosca: I have gained in the past five years a good knowledge of how our district works. I’m hopeful that what I’ve learned about the district, what I’ve self-studied, combined with my experience in the educational arena, my budgetary experience and my life experience of being an older parent with quite a young child, will convince the community that I am a suitable candidate.
Puskuldjian: I’m a lifelong resident. I love the North Shore School District. I love the North Shore community. I feel like the background that I have in finance and operations is something that could really be used right now, and I’m willing to give my time to try to see if I could help.
Stanco: If they love their children, they should elect me. Children are growing up to be so insecure that they have what’s known as fear of missing out, or FOMO. And they feel they don’t have much value unless they’re participating in many activities that are beyond their emotional growth and are not smart choices.