Meet the Candidate: Amanda Aronson

Amanda Aronson. Submitted photo

We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to meet the candidates running in the Nov. 5, 2019, municipal election.

Compiled by Ronni Newton

We-Ha.com is offering our readers the opportunity to “Meet the Candidate” – designed to help them get to know the candidates running for office in the 2019 municipal election.

Identical questionnaires have been sent to all candidates, and each profile received has been submitted directly to We-Ha.com by the candidate or the candidate’s campaign management. The responses have not been edited but have been formatted to match our publication style. Questions left blank have been deleted.

As profiles are received, they will be published on We-Ha.com under the “Government” tab. We-Ha.com is not making endorsements of any political candidates but we are publishing this information in order to assist voters in being informed and prepared when they go to the polls on Nov. 5.

If you are a candidate and wish to submit a profile, please return it by email to Ronni Newton at [email protected] as soon as possible.

Name: Amanda Aronson

Age: 43

Party, position seeking: Democrat, Board of Education

Family information: My husband and I have a daughter at KP, a son at Hall, and a rescue dog. We foster for Dog Star Rescue, so we also tend to have a steady stream of visiting animals.

Other occupation, if applicable: Principal of Aronson Consulting, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in research, strategic planning, marketing, and development for nonprofit and educational communities.

Political experience: Current member, Board of Education; Member of two subcommittees of the Governor’s Council for Women & Girls: Economic Opportunity & Workforce Equity/Education & STEAM; Member, West Hartford Democratic Town Committee; Graduate, Emerge Connecticut (political-training organization for women).

Other relevant experience: I recently served on the leadership team of the Bridge Family Center, so I understand the diverse needs of the children and families in our community and how the region is positioned to meet those needs. I am also an active community volunteer. One of my key roles is serving as a docent at the New Britain Museum of American Art. Docents complete a rigorous 10-month training program, then continue to attend weekly training to support tours for students ages 3-23.

Why are you running for office? I want to be a guardian for education. Ensuring access to a proper education is the single most important thing we can do for people, especially children. A solid education allows a person to obtain gainful employment, which can lead to financial independence. If someone has the option of financial independence, he or she is safer moving through life. Education has a direct line to safety, and I take that very seriously – particularly as it pertains to women and girls and children in marginalized communities. Here in West Hartford, we have one of the strongest educational systems in the country, and we are leaders in many educational initiatives. For the foreseeable future, funding from state sources will likely fluctuate. When it does, tough decisions may need to be made to balance programming. I want to be on the front lines guarding the strong programs we have to deliver on our responsibility to educate our children and support the faculty and staff who do some of the hardest work in our community.

What issue(s) are your primary area of focus? Reducing the achievement gap, supporting mental health, ensuring security

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing West Hartford today? West Hartford is the most diverse, vibrant, and forward-thinking community in central CT, and our schools are a big contributor to this. My husband and I were raised in Manchester, but when we moved to West Hartford 16 years ago, we were coming from Boston. We chose West Hartford for its diversity, its strong schools, and because it has a stimulating lifestyle to offer at every stage of life.

West Hartford is supported by engaged citizens who contribute to its health and vitality, and we have incredible economic development taking place. Each year when I attend the Economic Development Luncheon organized by the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, I am in awe of how much is happening. When the neighborhood-by-neighborhood overview of all the development projects in town is presented, it’s reassuring to see how goals for each area are being realized, and how the town is responding to feedback about where support is needed.

Our biggest issue is ensuring that all people in our community are supported and can access resources. Strong economic development and an award-winning school system are positive things, but they do create conditions that require a careful eye on those who can get overlooked. During any kind of decision making, we need to think about all the demographics in town and ask ourselves, “How does this decision affect these people?” It’s a delicate balance, and one that will be a perennial challenge for a thriving community.

Statement on school budget: West Hartford educates a diverse student body with a significant number of children with special needs. In addition to our core curriculum, we offer a robust arts and music curriculum and ensure that teachers are supported with competitive employment packages and ongoing professional development. Our district continues to win both state and national awards, and we do all of this and more with a lower per-pupil expenditure than districts we are measured against. We prove that high-quality education can be delivered to all children efficiently and effectively without sacrificing curriculum and support services.

Education is approximately 60% of the town budget and an underpinning of the economic security of our town. Whether people have children in the schools or not, the education budget affects everyone’s quality of life, so I take being a steward of that budget very seriously. We are fortunate to have a supportive Town Council and a highly engaged mayor who work collaboratively with the Board of Education and school administrators to ensure efficiencies are put in place wherever possible. For instance, the Town and the Board of Education share staff in key areas like facility management. We have large-scale solar projects on many of our school buildings to support energy savings. We made changes to healthcare plans that serve employees better and save millions, and school staff nurture relationships with social service agencies and grant-making organizations, so their resources can help support needs and reduce the load on schools.

What do you feel differentiates you from other candidates also running for this position? What I hope will continue to add value to the Board and augment the skill sets of my existing and future colleagues is that I am a strategic planner and have experience with many aspects of education. I am prepared for this role. My graduate degree is in education with a focus on middle school. I have been a classroom teacher and an administrator and worked within public, private, and Montessori school environments, so I understand how to scale best practices. Through my consulting work, I have been involved with strategic planning, facility planning, curriculum development, policy research, and legislative advocacy. Understanding how to evaluate information based on the full scope of education is valuable when serving as a policy maker.

Anything else you would like to share? Yes.My husband is involved with emergency management work locally, nationally, and internationally, so for better or worse, conversations about safety and security are daily points of conversation in our home. I want the community to know that I am very attuned to these issues. I am prepared to serve on the Board of Education in all the traditional ways, but I hope the community finds my familiarity with safety and security issues reassuring.

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