District 2 School Committee candidate Ricky Finlay
District 2 is Precincts 3 and 5
Years lived in Framingham: My whole life.
Family (optional): Wife Patricia, and Daughter Olivia 13 at Cameron Middle School Son Bobby 9 at McCarthy Elementary School.
Volunteerism: Currently Framingham Youth Football
Website or Facebook page link: Finlay For School Committee Facebook
Editor’s Note: Candidates were asked to provide one-word answers only. If there is no answer the candidate did not submit a response.
- Framingham Public Schools are: Vibrant
- What was your favorite subject in school? Science
- Should Framingham Public Schools Provide free universal preschool? Yes
- Wi-Fi access at the middle school and Framingham High is Weak
- At this time, what letter grade would you give Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay? A+
- Should the $100 athletic fee be eliminated? Yes
- Favorite children’s book: Make Way for Ducklings
- What was the last Framingham Public School event you attended: Football game
- What letter grade would you give yourself as a School Committee member? A
- What is your favorite place in Framingham? (just one): Farm pond – Cushing Park area.
Editor’s Note: As there have been no forums for School Committee candidates, thus far, Source decided to ask far more questions of these candidates than of the mayor and city council candidates so voters could understand where they stand on issues. Candidates were given up to 350 words to answer each question. If the candidates went over 400 words, they were cut at the closest sentence to 400. Answers to the questions are copied and pasted below.
1) You are currently serving on the Framingham School Committee, elected town-wide. Why should voters in District 2 elect you to the new Framingham School Committee?
I take my role as a representative of the people very seriously. I do my homework and research before meetings and reach out to peers on issues. I am not afraid to ask tough questions and I vote for what I believe is best for our students. I return constituent phone calls and listen to concerns and guide people in the right direction for help. I also enjoy working with other town leaders to accomplish things that are in the best interest of Framingham. I am proud of my collaboration with other Board members and town leaders to accomplish many things for Framingham school children. I look forward to continuing to advocate for students, teachers, parents and taxpayers. I will continue to be a fiscally-responsible Committee member, and keep all stakeholders educated and informed on the
2) In your opinion what is the biggest issue facing the Framingham Public Schools? How will you work to fix it?
The increasing enrollment of students each year and the ability to find them space in existing schools. Our school classrooms are not built for 21 century learning.
This is not a quick fix by any means. We should already be in the que with the MSBA for reconstruction of an additional elementary school or building a new one at an existing location. To do this FPS also has to have a solid plan in place whether it goes back to neighborhood schools, or as close to it as possible, and align all curriculum in the district across the board.
3) Former Superintendent of Schools Stacy Scott served the district without a license for almost an entire school year. Were you ever notified that he did not have a license by another school district? Five of the seven School Committee member were required to terminate Scott, according to his contract. He was never terminated despite a clause in his contract that required him to have a valid, active license. Did you vote to terminate him once the license issue became public. Why or Why not?
To my knowledge we were not notified by another district. I did vote to terminate Dr. Scott. I felt he clearly violated the contract.
I lost all confidence in leadership and felt if other staff members had been let go because of license issues the same should apply to the superintendent.
4) The district has been criticized for not communicating to staff, parents, and students. What can the School Committee do to improve communication to all stakeholders? What specific steps have you taken since the recommendations of the Communications and Public Relations Task Force?
I feel that the Committee over the past two years under the leadership of the Chairperson Connolly has worked hard on disseminating information to all stakeholders. She should be commended for her great leadership in getting this done. We are doing a much better job communicating than we had been and it’s continuing to get better. When I returned to the school committee, a communications task force was reconvened with different people than the original task force. Mr. Kelly chaired it and invited everyone from the original task force
to also provide their input. The major complaints at the time were the website and wi-fi. The district built a new website. These are two issues that further progress in needed on because I still believe we can do better.
5) Should Framingham Public Schools return to neighborhoods schools? Why or why not?
Yes, I have always believed Framingham should go back to neighborhood schools. Families only living a street away from one another don’t know each other and we’ve lost the fabric of our neighborhoods. Transportation costs are extremely high to bus students all across the city. Additionally, our students spend too much time on busses.
6) One of the major roles of the School Committee is to set policy. If elected to be the School Committee member from District 2, what policy change would you recommend? Why?
Elimination of athletic and all activity fees. These should be built into the operating budget. Our district is at 50 percent free and reduced lunch. We should not have one set of families directly subsidizing another set.
7) Framingham has four level 3 schools. Even some of its level 2 school have significant achievement gaps. What have you done as a School Committee member to decrease these gaps and to help improve the underperforming schools in your years service on the School Committee? Be specific.
I have always advocated that all students should receive the level of services that they individually need. I also feel that the same curriculum should be taught throughout the district and has changed too much from school-to- school over the past several years. The previous administration did not address this matter properly and did not give staff the right tools or training they required. The school
committee can voice its opinion but it is not our purview to act on staffing matters.
8) Do you support a level funded, level service, or an increase in the Framingham Public Schools budget for the 2018-19 school year? Why?
I support a level service budget. I listen to our school CFO and our superintendent. If they tell us we meet all our needs and obligations with a level budget that is best practice and living within our means. We shouldn’t request funds that we don’t readily need.
9) If you could spend $100,000 in the Framingham Public Schools, where would the money go? why?
To staff appreciation. I value all of our dedicated employees and would like to recognize them more often and hold events for them. Additionally, I would also like to offer internal grants to staff to give them an opportunity to develop innovative programs to solve current challenges.
10) Framingham is dealing with a significant increase in student enrollment over the last decade. As soon as November 2018, voters may be asked to spend between $30 and $50 million for a new Fuller Middle School. How will you enlist support for bond issues or public school spending from conservative voters or taxpayers with no children in the public schools?
The FPS in collaboration with the Mayor and the council will need to hold forums in all districts to educate everyone on the situation and give the public tours of current building. The more knowledge and conversation we can have the better they will feel about voting for something the community desperately needs.
11) Will the new Fuller Middle School be enough to deal with the space crunch? What are the 3 biggest capital issues facing the Framingham Public Schools beyond Fuller over the next 5 years?
(1) Preparing for the next elementary school to be Rehabbed or replaced. This will require a feasibility study and being accepted into queue for MSBA for funding. The next would be (2) Funds for renovation of Farley for future use. (3) School roofs at several buildings will need replacement as the warranties expire and they continue to fail.
12) One of the complaints about the district is that there is inequity among the three middle schools. There is a reason that more than 50% of the students at the McAuliffe Charter School hail from Framingham. Superintendent Tremblay said he noticed the differences first hand during his residence program. During your tenure as a School Committee member, what steps did you take to make sure all students received an equal education in grades 6-7- 8?
As a member of the school committee I have brought this issue up several times to the previous administration. I believe the problem is the feeder system of which the elementary schools go to which middle schools. We need to fix that first. This also becomes a political issue as we need to improve our level three schools at the same time. It is the superintendent who has the final say on this. With our new
superintendent we need to give him a chance to have a full year under his belt and collaborate with all three middle schools principals and seek elementary principals’ input. As school committee members we can only voice our opinions but, we can make them strongly known.
13) School bus rides are long. I would fix it by going back to neighborhood schools, or as close to it as we can. The next best solution would be to hire more crossing guards and deploy them in more places to allow for safer walking routes.
14) You will represent a specific part of the city. How will you balance the needs of your constituents with the needs of the overall school district? Be specific in your answer.
I would represent District 2, the same way I represent all of Framingham now. I would bring my district issues forward to the committee. I take my role as a representative of the people very seriously. I do my homework and research before meetings and reach out to peers on issues. I am not afraid to ask tough questions and I vote for what I believe is best for our students. I return constituent phone calls and listen to concerns and guide people in the right direction for help. I also enjoy working with other town leaders to accomplish things that are in the best interest of Framingham. I am proud of my collaboration with other Board members and town leaders to accomplish many things for Framingham’s school children in the past year. I look forward to continuing to advocate for students, teachers, parents and taxpayers. I will continue to be a fiscally-responsible Committee member, and keep all stakeholders educated and informed on the issues.
15) What do you do when a parent complaints to you about a teacher? What do you do when a teacher complains about a principal?
I first inquire as to whether the parent has spoken directly with the principal regarding the teacher. If not, I believe that is where they need to start. I would refer a teacher to talk to their union representative and/or the superintendent.
16) Name three things you have specifically done to improve education in Framingham.
Worked collaboratively with all stakeholders to educate them why we have needed funding for certain capital projects to maintain our schools.
Have worked in the past with State Senator Spilka and other legislators to bring awareness regarding which specific underfunded mandates are a problem for Framingham.
I am supporting the administration, staff, teachers, and trying to support them so that they can get the resources they need to be successful.
17) There is criteria to measure a Superintendent. Criteria to evaluate a teacher. How should you as a School Committee member be evaluated? What three things should voters hold you accountable for? Why?
School committee members should be evaluated by our constituents on both the legal responsibilities of the job as well as other factors including responsiveness to constituents as well leadership.
The legal responsibilities are: setting policy, approving the budget, Hiring and reviewing the Superintendent and hiring the Business Director. We have a fiscal responsibility to the tax payers and a moral responsibility to our children.
Policy is essential to keeping the organization running smoothly.
We need to hold our superintendent to a high standard measured against agreed upon goals for our school system.
I return constituent phone calls and emails and listen closely to parent and resident concerns regarding our schools.