She knows how to brighten up a day

·4 min read

May 26—NORWALK — Sue Bright has lived up to her name the last 37 years as a teacher in the Norwalk City Schools District.

Maplehurst Elementary Principal Ken Moore said she would brighten up any day with a quick song and smile.

And, Moore, said, she will be missed.

Bright, who is retiring at the end of this month, was named Teacher of the Year by the Norwalk Teachers Association at Tuesday night's monthly board of education meeting.

Also honored, as a Friend of Education, was the late Hans Hoffmann.

"She told me she didn't deserve it," NTA President Rick Brown said. "How humble that is for somebody who has worked so hard for so long?"

Bright is a graduate of Norwalk High School.

"We had 11 nominations and six of them went to her," Brown said. "People love you, so that's why you are the teacher of the year."

Others who are retiring this year are Connie Kluding, (22 years) a secretary at League Elementary, and LuAnn Pugh (14 years), an aide with the support services staff.

"Connie is going to be greatly missed," League Elementary Principal Adam Kreischer said. "She has an old-school work ethic. She is always early to work.

"She is probably the most important person to the daily run of that building," he added. "She is truly a team player ... she makes our building run. Very difficult to replace. Congratulations on your retirement."

Pugh was described as a jack of all trades by Tim Scheel, associate director of support services, who said, "She just showed up and did her job every day. You could count on her."

Also honored at Tuesday night's school board meeting where the three students will will speak at Saturday night's graduation ceremony at Contractor's Stadium — Luke Brown, valedictorian, Lana Oglesby, salutatorian and Isabelle Borgeson, class president.

Treasurer Joyce Dupont went over the school's five-year forecast, noting it isn't easy running a district with so many employees and buildings.

She said the district spends $3.6 million per year on medical premiums, and the electric bill at the high school alone is $24,000 a month.

"We have been losing money," Dupont said "We are spending our savings."

She pointed out ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) federal money has helped out, but that will run out in September 2024.

"We are spending more than we are taking in," she said. "If it wasn't for the federal money we would be in a serious, ugly financial situation. But, we have some federal money and that is what that is keeping us afloat.

"We are missing $2 million (from the state)," Dupont added. "We are hoping the state funds the Fair School Funding Formula plan. It is a good formula. The state has plenty of money. They are talking about eliminating income tax."

Dupont said the school is just looking for its fair share from the state.

To see the school's five-year forecast visit:

Two women spoke about their children who are attending Norwalk City Schools through North Point Educational Service Center and are on an IEP (Individualized Education Program). They both said their children were kept out of school functions.

One student was kept out of a concert in the fall, and again in the spring.

"It was a misunderstanding and she did it twice," Superintendent Brad Cooley said about the teacher. "Communication needs to be done on the front end. Everybody is welcome to be here ... this will not happen again."

The Norwalk Athletic Boosters donated a check for $30,000 to help cover student athletic fees.

Finally, board member Duane Moore thanked everybody for the support he and fellow board member Ralph Ritzenthaler got during their recent medical issues. The two have been at odds with the rest of the board at various times in recent months, but Moore said that is in the past.

"This board has come together," he said. "We are one group."

The board is set to meet at 7 p.m. June 6 and 14 in the high school library to talk about finances and new board policies, and the next regular meeting is set for 7 p.m. June 21 in the Fisher-Titus Learning Center.