Board of Education: Finkelstein, Schwemm, Rothstein run unopposed

The end of 2015 will open up three seats on the Board of Education, and those who now hold them — Christine Finkelstein (R), Lory Rothstein (R) and Laura Schwemm (D) — are running for uncontested reappointment in the Nov. 3 municipal election.
Each of the three candidates is at the end of her first term. Terms on the Board of Education are four years long, and service on the Board of Education is limited to two elected terms.

Christine Finkelstein

Finkelstein is an independent communications consultant by profession and has lived in Wilton for 21 years. She considers the hiring of Dr. Kevin Smith as the superintendent of Wilton schools to be one of the defining points of her four years on the Board of Education to date.
“The biggest job in my term was to hire a new superintendent, which we did with Dr. Kevin Smith,” she said. “Our work has been to align his style and his goals for the district with Wilton’s expectations. The Wilton community feels strongly about our schools. They’re the largest source of taxpayer money here.”
Of Wilton’s recent subpar Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test scores, Finkelstein took the side of Smith in attributing them in large part to the town’s late transition to the Common Core standards.
“Of course, that was a major disappointment,” Finkelstein said, “but as Dr. Smith has explained, it exposes that our curriculum is not aligned with Common Core, which shows that the Wilton schools didn’t begin the transition early enough. Wilton schools are still outstanding. They’re top-performing in the state, and with the schools our kids are ending up in, there’s no need to sound the panic alarm.”

Laura Schwemm

Schwemm grew up in Wilton and moved back in 1997, living in town as an adult for the last 18 years. She earned a master’s degree in American history from the University of California, Berkeley, where she taught several classes, and headed up the Wilton Library’s children’s department from 2005 to 2008.
Schwemm, like Finkelstein, places great value on the current board’s success in hiring a superintendent to replace Dr. Gary Richards.
“Not every board does that,” noted Schwemm, “but it’s our most important responsibility.
“Public education poses a lot of challenges, and Kevin Smith has already started making changes to address that,” she added.
Schwemm supports the K-9 visit to Wilton High School scheduled for Oct. 9, and holds that it will send a positive message to students and their families.
“Drugs have no place at Wilton High School,” Schwemm said, “and we want everyone to know that the Board of Education supports that. It’s just another way of taking care of our kids. Obviously we don’t expect the police to find anything, and that’s the point. We’re trying to send a message.”
To Schwemm, service on the Board of Education is a labor of love.
“The reason why I serve on the Board of Education is because I care about public education and I care about children everywhere, but especially in Wilton,” Schwemm said. “My kids have had great experiences here, and Wilton continues to be a place where people want to live, and we want our schools to continue to be the best that they can be.”

Lory Rothstein

Rothstein has been a Wiltonian for 13 years and she worked 13 years at Xerox Corp. during her professional career. She has a bachelor’s degree in business from La Salle University.
She said she is “very proud” of the accomplishments made by the Board of Education during her first term, and also cited specifically the hiring of Smith as the highlight of her tenure.
“In the short time he has been here in Wilton,” Rothstein commented, “he has already shifted the direction of our school district toward the future while still attending to our current needs.”
Rothstein also takes pride in the current Board of Education’s “work … to change our teaching model to a more student-centered model of learning.”
Running for her second term, Rothstein wants to help Smith usher in what she sees as a new epoch in the history of education.
“I like what’s happening in our schools right now. Again, under Dr. Smith’s leadership, our schools are embarking on an exciting journey in education. We are looking at, evaluating and challenging the status quo on everything — curriculum, policies, grading, learning models, teaching methods, staffing, technology, etc. There is a real sense of change and excitement in our schools right now and I am happy to be a part of it all.”
Rothstein prioritizes efficient budget management and sees the handling of school revenues and expenditures as having always been one of the Board of Education’s most important responsibilities, historically as well as moving forward into the coming years.
“As a board we are always aware of not only the needs of our students, but those of our community as well, so operating within the most cost-effective budget as possible is of utmost importance to us.”