District 3 School Committee candidate Sheryl Goldstein
District 3 is Precincts 4 and 7
Occupation: Parent Advocate and volunteer
Years lived in Framingham: 17
Family (optional): Keith, Samantha (8th grader), Sydney (5th grader)
Volunteerism: Co-Chair of the Framingham Special Education Parent Advisory Council (FSEPAC), Framingham State University – advisory services, Decoding Dyslexia of MA, PTO McCarthy School
Website or Facebook page link: https://www.facebook.com/sherylg4sc/?ref=br_rs
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 average.
- What was your favorite subject in school? Art
- Should Framingham Public Schools Provide free universal preschool? Yes.
- Wi-Fi access at the middle school and Framingham High is essential
- At this time, what letter grade would you give Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay? I (incomplete)
- Should the $100 athletic fee be eliminated? Yes.
- Favorite children’s book: Corduroy – by Don Freeman
- What was the last Framingham Public School event you attended: McCarthy Elementary School Open House
- What is your favorite place in Framingham? (just one): Cushing Park
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.
QUESTION #1 – Why should voters in District 3 elect you to the new Framingham School Committee?
I am a concerned parent and resident of our district. We have to make sure that all of our students are learning to their fullest potential. I have proven my ability to make a positive impact to students and parents through my volunteer work. I am able to treat this as a full time position.
I genuinely care, have a listening ear, and a can-do attitude. I respect diverse points of view, and have a passion to improve the quality of education in our school district. I know I will make a positive difference for the children and parents in our community.
QUESTION #2 – In your opinion what is the biggest issue facing the Framingham Public Schools? How will you work to fix it?
The biggest issue facing Framingham Public Schools is improving the quality of education. I know many families who have moved out of the district because other neighboring towns and cities have better school programs than Framingham. We need to be the city where young families move to because of the quality of the education we deliver, and not the city where young families leave because of our education system. There are many underlying reasons for this. Some examples are inconsistency in the curriculum across all nine of our elementary schools, which has resulted in uneven education for our students, and low parental involvement in the educational process.
We need to set policy to standardize the curriculum across the district as well as the method of delivery from school to school. Further, we should investigate the curriculum text books of the best performing schools in MA, benchmark against what we are using, and adopt the best practices. We also need to look for creative ways to increase parent involvement, fully understanding the time challenges of the parents in our community, whether it be using technology such as Skype and FaceTime, or school based community events on weekends where the children get to be involved together and the parents learn.
QUESTION #3 – 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?
We absolutely need to increase communication to parents (which will aid in parent involvement), teachers and students. This also needs to be done consistently across all schools in the district. As parents we need to be able to access the various activities across the district in a centralized calendar that can be accessed by all people interested in participating in Framingham Public Schools (FPS) programs and activities.
We need to computerize all of our children’s work, and also provide updates on if a child is showing a struggle or above average mastery in an area it is easily notated on an electronic file so parents know the progress of their student in a more timely manner.
We should revisit the findings from the Communications Task Force (2016) and if necessary conduct another one for further review and analysis to determine the most effective communication method for parents.
We need to determine the best communication methods whether it be a web portal, Facebook, Framingham Access TV, a Framingham School phone app, our HS TV station, or similar delivery methods.
Consistent, timely, and meaningful communication will aid in parent involvement which is underlying tenet of a school district’s success.
QUESTION #4 – Should Framingham Public Schools return to neighborhoods schools? Why or why not?
Yes, FPS should do away with school choice and return to neighborhood schools.
As we implement standardization across the schools, the notion of one school being better than another must go away; it should not matter where you live.
Every child should receive an equally great education. This is not just my opinion, it is also the opinion of many of the families that I have spoken with in my district and around the city.
It has been shared with me that school choice creates angst in the school process from day one with parents wondering if they made the right choice, and carries through right up to high school! It leads to long bus rides for our young children and promotes a reduced level of socialization within neighborhoods as children from the same neighborhoods go to different schools with different start and end times.
QUESTION #5 – One of the major roles of the School Committee is to set policy. If elected to be the School Committee member from District 3, what policy change would you recommend? Why?
I would strongly advocate to create consistency across all our schools in the district as expressed in my answers to questions 2, 3, and 4.
I recognize that not all schools will be able to house specialized learning classrooms (sub separate). Special education specialties should remain at several of our schools to provide as many students support and education within our community, and without incurring the cost of sending them out of district where appropriate.
QUESTION #6 – 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.
We need to be consistent in the delivery of our instruction across all of our elementary schools and engage parents in the process of learning. Expectation of our students, parents and teachers need to be clearly rolled out. DSAC (District and School Assistance Centers) shouldn’t be our only solution for solving this problem.
QUESTION #7 – 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 don’t support level funding because a level funded budget doesn’t take into consideration existing contractual obligations and the needs of our increasing student population. I support, for the 2018-19 school year, a level service budget which will ensure the students receive the same level of services in the 2018-19 school year that they benefited from in the 2017-18 school year. This will allow the newly elected School Committee and Dr. Tremblay reasonable time to assess the district with the same resources available as in the past, make the necessary adjustments to measure improvements against, and then make additional funding related decisions for future years.
QUESTION #8 – If you could spend $100,000 in the Framingham Public Schools, where would the money go? Why?
$100,000 appears to be a sizeable number, but is quite small ( less than 1/10% of a percent ) in relation to the $128 million dollar budget for FPS. I would look for an impactful way to put the funds to beneficial use for a large population of the student body.
Based on what I know today, I would use the money to reduce student activity fees. This will allow for greater equality within the district and will likely increase student involvement in the educational process outside of the classrooms.
QUESTION #9 – 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?
Framingham has an obligation, as any city or town does, to provide its children with the best education it can. Many of the taxpayers with no children in the school system today, did in fact have children in the district years prior, and understand that the young children of Framingham deserve a quality education just as their children once received.
With that said, we need to look at creative financing mechanisms to reduce the financial burden on city residents and clearly communicate to the community the options that were looked at, and the reasons for the decisions arrived at. Some examples of creative financing beyond looking to the State for assistance would be to look for corporate sponsors to pay for a gymnasium, library, auditorium, or even the building itself, debt exclusion, sales of any surplus city properties, or a combination of the above.
QUESTION #10 – 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?
The Fuller building project may need to be revisited.
Capital issues likely facing FPS over the next 5 years will be: Overcrowding solution at the high school, other additional class space as needed, and aging computers, software.
QUESTION #11 – 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?
We should make all middle schools as attractive as possible so that we have far less students attending the charter school. It is evident from my discussions with FPS parents that they want more for their children than what is being offered today at Cameron, Fuller and Walsh. Many of the parents that I have spoken with find McAuliffe’s team and project based learning to be more appealing than what is offered at Framingham middle schools. I would like to see the School Committee advocate for and Dr. Tremblay adopt some of the practices of the charter model’s team and project based learning and incorporate them into the FPS system.
QUESTION #12 – How can Framingham reduce escalating costs for students with special needs, while at the same time making sure they receive equal education and make progress in their classes? Be specific.
We need to list and prioritize all the specialized learning requirements of the children throughout the district. With a large part of the special education department costs being related to out of district placements we should train teachers with the specialized instruction techniques to educate as many children as possible thereby reducing the costs for sending children out of district. This will not eliminate out of district placements but will help to reduce them. For those children that continue to receive out of district placements we should investigate in-district transportation as other districts have seen a reduction in transportation costs by doing this.
QUESTION #13 – School bus rides are ______________________. I would fix it by _______________________________.
QUESTION #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.
While my first obligation is to my district I fully understand that the whole is the sum of its parts.
To that point I will work closely with my school committee colleagues to find solutions that serves the needs of the children in District 3 while providing the best overall education for all the children in our city.
QUESTION #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 to you?
I like to understand both sides of an issue before passing judgement and also before suggesting corrective actions.
QUESTION #16 – Name three things you have specifically done to improve education in Framingham.
(1) I have held the position of co-chair of the FSPAC for the past three years – I have helped parents understand the process of special education.
(2) I have been an active member of the group Decoding Dyslexia of MA where I have been able to educate our parents as well as teachers on this particular learning disability.
(3) I have been involved in pilot projects with Framingham State University which focuses on community engagement and our school system and educates our future teachers.
QUESTION #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?
I expect the constituents in my district to hold me to high standards:
I should be measured on my:
- Accessibility to the public and my responsiveness to situations that arise.
- My involvement in Framingham Public School events and within the community.
- My voting record.