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Dear Framingham community members,
I am running for School Committee from District 6 because we have some real challenges ahead and I believe very strongly that I bring the right mix of experience, judgment and new ideas to the School Committee, to make sure that our school system is constantly improving and delivering the best possible education for our kids.
I have sound experience as a School Committee member, having served on the Newton School Committee for 6 years before moving to Framingham in 2014. Since moving here, I have been following developments in the Framingham school system with great interest. It's clear that we have a solid school system but that we can make some real improvements.I have already engaged in trying to improve things by serving on the Framingham School Committee Communications and Public Relations Task Force, which provided a set of sound recommendations to the administration.
Here are some of the tasks the next School Committee should attack:
- Transition the School Committee to city government mode, with the Mayor as an ex-officio member of the School Committee. The budget will be a key initial focus, with the Mayor, Superintendent, School Committee and City Council all playing key roles. Excellent communications between all parties and a genuine team approach are essential to a good outcome. Much attention needs to be paid to this vital first venture into the nuts and bolts of city government.
- Develop a productive, durable relationship with the new Superintendent. The past year, where we had a superintendent on full pay but doing no work, was a low point for the School Committee and a parlous waste of precious budget money. We need to do much better in managing this critical relationship.
- Bring much more focus to student achievement so our kids do the best they can at all levels. Everything the School Committee does should be driven by student achievement. Aligned with this, we need to substantially improve math & science, especially in the elementary and middle schools to provide our kids key basic skills they need for the 21st century.
- Keep on improving communications. The recommendations of the communications task force need to be acted on fully. It is clear we still need improvements to the district website, school websites, two way communications with the community and communications relating to academic matters.
- Improve the approach to teacher evaluation. We need to make this a positive, productive process, with principals fully engaged, centered on helping and supporting teachers, rather than treating it as some state mandated torture which we have to suffer through, while begging the state for more money to fund it. If we adopted better practices, we would have much better outcomes, save about $1 million annually and have no need to beg the state for more money.
- Make sure our school buildings are in great shape and have the capacity to handle projected future student population growth. The Fuller project, being handled in the MSBA framework, will be a key test of our ability to carry a key capital project through to success. All the key phases of the project lie ahead: feasibility, design, funding and construction. The community needs to be in the loop all the way, as they will be asked to approve a debt exclusion for the project, which unlocks substantial state money to help offset the project costs. This project will be another key test of the Mayor/School Committee/City Council/community team.
- Provide the right infrastructure to support a modern education.That includes all the digital tools teachers and students need to get the job done, including a reliable WiFi network with sufficient bandwidth. The abrupt shut down of FPS WiFi early in 2016 was an indicator of problems a while ago, but we need to constantly pay special attention to this area, with proper funding and staffing.
- Make sure we know what is working and what is not. This is critical for making sure that our educational investments are the right ones. Transparency is essential and depends on good, forthright working relationships in the school system at all levels. We are a team and, if things are working - great, but if they are not, changes need to be made.
From my experience on the Newton School Committee, there are numerous other areas which also need the best School Committee attention possible, including: special education, investments in the earliest grades to get the best outcomes later on, fostering music and art in the elementary schools, nurturing electives in the middle schools and the high school, security and safety of the schools, and so on. There is much to address and always room for improvement in every facet of school system operations. I look to the community for vital input during the campaign to help finalize a set of priorities to drive the School Committee agenda in 2018.
The November election marks our transition from a town to a city. It is a time of very positive change and we need to bring that same shift in approach to the School Committee with a new wave of energy and innovation to work with our new superindendent, our principals and our teachers to provide the best possible education for our children, to prepare them for a wide range of careers and fulfilling employment.
School Committee Candidate, District 6