Responses to YourArlington questions – February 1, 2017

Here are my answers to three questions asked by YourArlington.com:

— Why are you seeking reelection?

These are exciting times in our schools. We are building a new Gibbs School, planning for a new Arlington High School, renovating the Stratton School, expanding the Thompson School, and planning an addition to the Hardy School. I am energized by the tasks ahead, and honored to be able to work with six fantastic school committee colleagues as we meet the challenges we face in Arlington.

— What are your qualifications to hold the office you seek?
Past President, Massachusetts Association of School Committees (president in 2004)
15 years of school committee service (four years on the Minuteman Regional School Committee, eleven years on the Arlington School Committee).
21 years of service as a Town Meeting Member (1993-2003 and 2006-present).
34 years as a public school teacher and administrator
B.S., City University of New York;
Ed.M., C.A.S., Harvard University Graduate School of Education

— What major three challenges face a candidate for this seat, and how
would you address each with an aim to improve Arlington?

Three challenges:
1. Rebuilding Arlington High School. We have made tremendous progress in the past two years, but we have significant work ahead of us. We were accepted into the core program of the Massachusetts School Building Authority, and we are advancing to Feasibility Study module of the construction program. We brought our case to the voters last June, and the funding for the Feasibility Study was approved by a 3:1 margin. Our challenge going forward is to devise a plan for a school that serves our community well for the next several decades.

2. Meeting the needs of a growing enrollment. During the housing crash eight years ago, Arlington was one of a few communities that retained housing values through the crisis. When lenders started to make mortgages available again, Arlington became a popular destination for young families. We are in the middle of a demographic shift, and many young families are willing to trade space for the amenities of an urban community with reasonable commutes and enticing amenities. We are in the middle of an enrollment surge that has us repurposing the Gibbs School, adding six classrooms to the Thompson School, and planning for an addition to the Hardy School. Our challenge is to continue to stay ahead of the demographic trends, and to rally community support for the funding required to meet the needs of a rapidly expanding enrollment.

3. Maintaining momentum. During my time on the school committee, we have made steady progress in our schools. We now have a culture of continuous improvement, and our teachers are committed to the work of making things a little bit better every day. We need to support or teaching staff in their work, and provide them the encouragement and resources they need to do great things for our children.

The connection among all three items, for the school committee, is to build the community’s understanding of our challenges, and gain support for our work.

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