District 4 School Committee candidate Adam Freudberg
District 4 is Precincts 6 and 9
Occupation: Senior Advisor for Innovation and Collaboration, Hanscom Air Force Base (Air Force Support Contractor). In this role I bring people together to pursue and implement collaborative, fiscally responsible approaches to benefit the Air Force, educational institutions and the region.
Years lived in Framingham: 10
Family (optional): Wife Nicole and three kids. Six year old in 1st grade at Dunning Elementary School, four year old in preschool and a six month old baby
Volunteerism: President of the Board, Framingham Centre Nursery School; Parent Representative on the 2017 Framingham Superintendent Search Committee
Website or Facebook page link: http://www.facebook.com/AdamforSchoolCommittee/ and @afreudmass on Twitter
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 Dedicated
- Have you ever been elected to a leadership role with a PTO? Yes
- If yes, which school and role (you may use more than one-word): Dunning Elementary School, Elected to School Council October 4.
- Have you ever served on a Framingham School Council? #AboutToAttendFirstMeeting
- If yes, which school? Dunning
- What was your favorite subject in school? Civics
- Will you vote yes for a debt exclusion override for a new Fuller Middle School? Yes
- At this time, what letter grade would you give Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay? B+
- What was the last Framingham Public School event you attended: Dunning PTO Meeting
- Favorite children’s book: Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
- Should Framingham Public Schools Provide free universal preschool? #YesIfWeCanFindTheMoney
- Wi-Fi access at the middle school and Framingham High is #NotReliableEnoughAndIsNeededforVisitorsToo
- Should the $100 athletic fee be eliminated? #YesIfWeCanFindTheMoney
- Do you support starting Framingham High School later? Yes
- Do you support leveling at the middle school level? No
- Would you support a longer day for school in Framingham? Maybe
- Should school start after Labor Day? Yes
- Should February vacation be eliminated? No
- I would bring INNOVATION to the School Committee. (just one word).
- What is your favorite place in Framingham? (just one): Framingham Centre Common
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 4 elect you to the new Framingham School Committee?
As a father of three young children who currently attend and will attend Framingham Public Schools during the next two decades, as an education policy specialist and as a first time candidate for public office, I have a strong background in education policy at the federal, state and local levels I believe the School Committee can benefit from. Our elected officials have a unique responsibility as we transition to a city and a new School Committee. I wish to contribute to the capable, professional, and transparent leadership our new city deserves, and which our residents have earned.
I plan to bring my extensive background in education policy at all levels of government to the Committee. This includes eight years in the Office of Governor Deval Patrick and Lt. Governor Timothy Murray leading state Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives, currently working on education efforts at Hanscom Air Force Base, and serving as both a member of the 2017 Framingham Superintendent Search Committee and as President of the Framingham Centre Nursery School Board.
In 2017 I was appointed by the School Committee to help find the next Superintendent. I worked with a diverse, talented group to recommend candidates for the position. Filling this vacancy was personally important to me because my kids will be directly impacted for years by the superintendent’s decisions.
It wasn’t until I was part of the team looking for a new Superintendent that I thought about running for office. During that process I learned about Framingham’s tremendous amount of opportunities not being pursued, as well as our challenges.
I’m ready to join the team of incoming City Council and School Committee members who together with our first Mayor will lead our new government after the inauguration on January 1st.
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 in my opinion is around equality, as it is associated with other big issues such as infrastructure and student achievement.
Are we providing a 21st century infrastructure for students and educators to support equitable student achievement? Are we doing enough to provide opportunities across the district so students have the life skills necessary and are career ready? Are the district’s offerings similar across all nine elementary schools and similar across all three middle schools?
At this time I believe we are not equally providing the same opportunities district wide. It is a huge challenge and one where only better coordination under our new form of government and with our new dynamic and talented Superintendent can help. To help make progress on this topic I plan to seek a School Committee seat on the City’s Strategic Initiatives and Financial Oversight Committee. This group must focus on innovative upgrades or building new schools due to aging facilities and enrollment growth.
I’ll add that what it means to be career ready isn’t what it used to be. Not only do students need to have a strong base of academic coursework, they need to learn critical thinking, public speaking, financial literacy skills, emotional controls and confidence. World and local events and experiences can cause tremendous levels of stress on students. The district has a high percentage of students who need additional services and have language barriers. Are we doing enough? No. We will never be done. It’s about continuous improvement and measurable progress. I plan to bring my partnership mentality to the committee and support the department’s efforts to enhance career readiness initiatives for all students.
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?
As a parent I have been impressed with the school, yet am mixed on the district as a whole. In the last few months I’ve seen Facebook posts from parents on topics that could have easily been avoided. Many also saw a district wide survey with awful typos that somehow was distributed. And every time Nicole and I receive the reminder email that tomorrow is a half day we comment on why the time school ends isn’t added to the email? Extra common sense reminders are ok and are not condescending to readers. One of my neighbors told me that, “There are so many things that are mentioned with no detail or the assumption that everyone just knows what is expected of students and parents.” I support more detail and providing more information such as a reminder on the exact time school ends on half days.
I’ve seen the Walsh Parent News update and really like the model of using PowerPoint slide format to clearly give parents exactly what they need to know. This and other best practices should be consistent across all schools.
To coordinate from the top down and implement solutions, I support the hiring of a Communications Director. For reasons I don’t understand, we don’t currently have one. At present and throughout the recent past, communications has been the responsibility of an Assistant Superintendent. I want someone of that level focusing on other issues. I’m confident that a talented mid-level employee can solve many chronic problems. I believe a Communications Director can:
- Support the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent’s day to day communications related efforts.
- Direct (without micromanaging) each school’s communication’s efforts with a level of cross-district consistency. This includes creating protocols for timely proofreading as well as ensuring timely translations into multiple languages for our diverse community.
- Be very savvy at social media. Track the Facebook chat groups on the schools and respond when necessary to clarify facts.
- Promote the great work our students and teachers do to media outlets.
- Work VERY closely with the Mayor’s Office to ensure the public receives coordinated information on city efforts.
QUESTION #4 – Should Framingham Public Schools return to neighborhoods schools? Why or why not?
At this time changing back to neighborhood schools would require immense changes. Changes I don’t feel we are ready to make without a whole lot of planning and public inputs on if we need to drastically change or not. As far as I know, school choice is the status quo and alternatives haven’t been formally studied. School choice also offers some positive attributes. I support the current school choice process yet am very open to new ideas.
I support keeping school choice in place because it is what parents are currently anticipating and because all of our schools do not offer the same programs. If a change was suddenly made it would shake up a lot of family plans and emotions, and cause inequity to rise.
Personally, choosing an elementary school for my kindergartner last year was a much more stressful process than I thought it would be. Many of the feelings and experiences Nicole and I went through reminded us of our own college searches. I’d love to hear more about this topic and am open to future studies or proposals on how we can make the school selection process continuously improve and be less stressful for our families.
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 4, what policy change would you recommend? Why?
Transition Support for Children who Receive Special Education Services – We must have a common sense and consistent approach with policies around special education. To me, it is common sense for a student’s previous year teacher to have a discussion with their incoming teacher before the first day of school. They can review the IEP, discuss triggers and offer advice to support the incoming student. These discussions happen often as many teachers go above and beyond, but is it required and is it actually happening? Is there a metric to track it and notify parents that this essential conversation occurred? If not, I’m very interested in requiring these discussions to happen.
Campaigning on School Property – On Facebook and in the Source I noticed a lot of confusion about what candidates for office can and cannot do on school grounds. I believe in the common sense separation of campaign activities from school grounds. Candidates can of course attend school events and meetings, and should be allowed to post on social media about it. Yet I don’t believe the policy is clear on visits to schools during hours when employees and students are inside, if they can have campaign materials, or if a candidate can film a video on school grounds for political use. It’s time to erase any uncertainty here and draft a clear policy that balances common sense and the First Amendment with interfering in school activities and separating campaigning from day to day government activities.
Recess Consistency – From school to school I’ve heard that the policies to penalize students who do not complete their homework are inconsistent and that some schools take recess time away. I want to learn more and help ensure we have the same policy for all schools. I don’t believe taking away recess is an appropriate penalty.
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.
Implementing a common backbone of curriculum, after school programs and other services with principles of equity and equality among our city’s schools is a challenge. Solving that is a step towards closing the achievement gap. Our district has a higher percentage of students than the state average in the areas of economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and English language learners. Yet even with these challenges, the school district has a talented group of educators, administrators and a Superintendent who are all well equipped to continue their hard work and together with the new School Committee provide outstanding leadership.
We need to have a common sense team approach to tackle the achievement gap challenge, just like we do with the goal of removing the Level 3 labels from any school in the district (currently Brophy, Fuller, McCarthy and Wilson). I attended the October 2nd School Committee meeting and saw promise in the ramped up approach these schools recently launched together with the support of the Greater Boston District and School Improvement Center. I’m intrigued by this approach and am interested in hearing from the Superintendent on what if any new resources are needed to move towards Level 2.
STEM is one of many proven pathways towards success. It can light a spark, cause students to become curious and inquire about things they never thought about before and gain motivation resulting in achievement. Specific after school STEM programs such as robotics programs have data showing they close the achievement gaps, especially in female minorities. I support removing barriers to entry for any of these programs as well as bringing their curricular principles to the school day when possible.
I believe the approach to solve these kinds of challenges must be backed up by data, educator education/training and a robust grant application process to take advantage of all possible non-city funding sources – all done in support of ensuring equal opportunities for student achievement across all schools.
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 support level services for the school district and increases when specific proposals are vetted and have new funding identified for them.
I am also very excited to serve on a committee with the Mayor as a non-voting member. The City Charter added the Mayor to the committee to ensure better coordination on the development and enactment of the annual budget.
During my time working for the Governor and Lt. Governor, I also worked as the Administration’s liaison to the Local Government Advisory Commission which includes the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. In my School Committee role I expect to work with these organizations again in order to support changes to statewide education policy and state funding strategies. This is another area where I feel my past experiences can support the Framingham Public Schools.
QUESTION #8 – If you could spend $100,000 in the Framingham Public Schools, where would the money go? Why?
Security. We can ramp up each school’s physical security and fund robust employee training to better prepare for incidents large and small. Many actions recommended for all districts by the 2014 Massachusetts Task Force Report on School Safety and Security did not come with new funding. If we had a $100,000 grant I expect we could make great use of it to both educate employees and add extra security protocols and some infrastructure for each school.
Many of the district level recommendations on pages 27-28 of the report can be adopted when it makes sense at no or low cost: http://www.mass.gov/edu/docs/eoe/school-safety-security/school-safety-report.pdf
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?
There will be positive financial impacts if our district goes from Level 3 to Level 2. Property values will increase and economic growth will occur as Framingham will become an even more attractive destination for new families. Those factors are critical pieces of any effort to convince residents with no children in the public schools to support the Fuller project and other future school infrastructure requirements.
For the Fuller project, I expect the Mayor, Superintendent, Central Office staff and Fuller staff and community to team up on a public education and communications plan. At the core of the plan can be the explanation about why Fuller needs to be replaced due to infrastructure and enrollment challenges, how much local funding is needed and where it will come from, and how that local funding brings in tens of millions of dollars in state funding to make the project possible.
Communicating about this effort has already started to begin and there are two timely forums coming up. I encourage anyone interested to participate in the upcoming forums on November 13th and 27th.
More information is available at: https://framinghamsource.com/index.php/2017/10/05/fuller-middle-school-building-project-community-workshops-scheduled-november/
QUESTION #10 – 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?
By continuing to support the Superintendent. In Dr. Trembley’s first six plus months on the job I heard him discuss this topic at multiple School Committee meetings I attended. He hasn’t only discussed this; he acted by directing the expansion of initiatives to fill gaps at Middle Schools. For example, Cameron and Walsh have the Resiliency for Life (RFL) program and Fuller does not. Starting this school year, RFL will begin at Fuller because of his leadership.
I applaud the Superintendent for recently inviting the McAuliffe leadership and other non FPS education leaders to an education summit to discuss how all K-12 schools and higher education can best work together to support all Framingham residents. This coordination can only help our community, including at the middle school level.
QUESTION #11 – School bus rides are important for child development, yet are typically way too long as they keep students away from family and/or other extracurricular activities.
I would fix it by:
- Looking at common sense cost neutral/low cost ways to reduce the average time per child
- Tracking the Superintendent and other city leader’s efforts through the Traffic Commission required by the City Charter to issue a report with recommendations on fixes to city wide traffic
- Ensuring the Superintendent’s recommendations are supported to reduce roundtrip ride times
QUESTION #12 – 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 care about all schools, not just the three (Juniper Hill BLOCKS, Dunning Elementary and Walsh Middle School) that are within or directly next to the borders of District 4. Many residents of District 4 attend school in other districts and many who live outside of District 4 attend schools within it. My role as a School Committee member is to support the entire school system.
With the new model of electing members by where they live, I do expect some issues to be district specific. I will balance those unique issues by communicating with each resident about each challenge. I will work hand in hand with District City Council and School Committee members on cross district issues. I have spoken with all candidates for School Committee and am ready to work with the final group elected. We have a very talented group of people running and I anxiously await November 8th when the winners can begin transition meetings.
QUESTION #13 – 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?
With personal conflicts such as these, I believe the role of a School Committee member is to facilitate a response and to not get in the weeds on the topic. I would actively listen and offer to assist with facilitating a response from district personnel, beginning at the lowest level possible but increasing as necessary to the appropriate decision maker like the Superintendent if they wanted that level of support from me
QUESTION #14 – Name three things you have specifically done to improve education in Framingham.
- When on staff in the Governor’s and Lt. Governor’s Offices I consistently worked to secure state funding for STEM initiatives. This included funding the state’s Regional STEM Network structure. The MetroWest Regional Network is housed at Framingham State University and has annually supported many local education programs for students and educators. I’m proud to have had a role creating the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council on behalf of the Patrick-Murray Administration with the many activists from nonprofits and industry. The Baker-Polito Administration continues to keep this council active and has continued to support the MetroWest Regional STEM Network at FSU.
- As a board member at Framingham Centre Nursery School for more than three years and now in my second year as President of the Board, I am very proud of what this school has accomplished in a number of areas. Supporting early education and care is a priority of mine. I’m excited to support the BLOCKS program as a School Committee member and ensure we have a comprehensive strategy for children beginning in Preschool, not beginning in Kindergarten.
- I served as a parent representative on the 2017 Superintendent’s Search Committee contributing to the School Committee’s selection of Dr. Trembley. As mentioned earlier, I worked with a diverse, talented group to recommend candidates for the position. Dr. Trembley chose to seek and then received a contract to start work three months early. He is carefully reviewing all aspects of the district and is not rushing to make any critical decisions in his first few months on the job. He strategically uses social media. He makes a real effort to engage with taxpayers who don’t have children in the schools. These examples and more are why I believe the 2017 search committee effort was successful and I have high hopes for his future.
QUESTION #15 – 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?
- Attendance and Response Time – Am I showing up to all School Committee meetings? Am I responding to constituent inquiries fast enough?
- Professionalism and Reputation – How am I doing in public at School Committee meetings or around the community? Am I asking the right on-topic questions in a respectful manner? What do other School Committee members, school officials, and those who talk to me in my School Committee role think about my work?
- Campaign Promises – Since I launched my campaign I’ve been clear on my personal priorities. In addition to the common sense concepts of fiscal responsibility, transparency and communication our school district must have, if elected I plan to prioritize and support:
- STEM and the Arts Initiatives to Support Career and Life Readiness – Increase access to afterschool STEM programs, support educator education, and better promote successes to decision makers and funders.
- Mental Health and Special Education Supports – Framingham has a much higher percentage of students who need additional services than the rest of the state. I support investing in efforts to ensure students are supported in these areas in order to become career ready.
- Substance Abuse Prevention – More can always be done to address this critical national public health crisis. I’d like the school department to create a formal partnership with the Massachusetts Attorney General Office’s current effort “to help make opioid prevention programs available in every middle school.”
- Strategic Collaborations with Framingham’s Mayor and City Council – I plan to seek a seat on the City’s Strategic Initiatives & Financial Oversight Committee, created by the charter to collaborate with the Mayor, Council and School Committee. We need to ramp up our collaborative city wide efforts so student achievement rises.
Thank you to the Source for the opportunity to respond to this detailed questionnaire and to all of you for reading this. Feel free to contact me through my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/AdamforSchoolCommittee/ or at firstname.lastname@example.org