Framingham District 5 School Committee Candidate Noval Alexander

District 5 School Committee candidate Noval Alexander

District 5 is Precincts 8 and 12

Age:  48

Occupation:  Special Needs Teacher’s Aide

Years lived in Framingham:  Born here but off/on 14 yrs

Family (optional): 2 children

Volunteerism:  Mentoring & Tutoring

Website or Facebook page link:  https://www.facebook.com/alexanderforschoolcommittee/?pnref=lhc

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 Dynamic
  • Have you ever been elected to a leadership role with a PTO? No
  • If yes, which school and role (you may use more than one-word):
  •  Have you ever served on a Framingham School Council? No
  •  If yes, which school? 
  • What was your favorite subject in school? History
  •  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: McCarthy Elementary Open House
  •  Favorite children’s book: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  •  Should Framingham Public Schools Provide free universal preschool?  Yes
  •  Wi-Fi access at the middle school and Framingham High is #Mediocre
  • Should the $100 athletic fee be eliminated? Yes
  •  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? Perhaps
  •  Should school start after Labor Day? Yes
  •  Should February vacation be eliminated? Yes
  •  I would bring  ACCOUNTABILITY  to the School Committee. (just one word).
  •  What is your favorite place in Framingham? (just one): The hiking trails at Nobscot Scout Reservation

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 5 elect you to the new Framingham School Committee?
One of the main reasons I’m seeking this position is because our community and schools are in the midst of changes and multiple complex challenges. I believe I have the right skill set and background to collaboratively bring solutions to these challenges.
 
 
 
QUESTION #2 –  The #1 role of a School Committee member is to be an advocate for student academic achievement while balancing the needs and interests of our educators and support staff.
 
 
 
QUESTION #3 – In your opinion what is the biggest issue facing the Framingham Public Schools? How will you work to fix it?

I believe the biggest issue facing our schools currently are the 3 underperforming schools according to DESE (Dept of Education & Secondary Education) I single handedly will not be able to fix this since there are so many components out of my or the SC control, however from my understanding the District in cooperation with DESE is in a recovery and monitoring plan for the targeted schools.

If elected I will lobby our elected State rep and Senator to change some of the metrics on how DESE classifies school districts and schools. I believe the current policies on how DESE classifies our underperforming schools are seriously flawed.

 
QUESTION #4 –  Do you support a level funded, level service, or an increase in the Framingham Public Schools budget for the 2018-19 school year? Why? What one program would be on your no cut list? What one program would you like to increase its funding? 
 

Well one of the cornerstones of my campaign is fiscal responsibility and I want to assure our taxpayers that I will do my best to reign in non academic wasteful expenditures.

Ideally we would like to provide a level service budget from year to year but from my understanding that may not be sustainable.

In regards to an increase in the budget for next school year I would like to see projections and recommendations from the administration, enrollment numbers and the like before making further comments on any proposed increases.

Level funding would be the sweet spot so to speak but that’s not the reality, as I mentioned before I would need to hear what the administration is proposing versus the projected revenues and grants.  I don’t have one particular program that would fall under a “no cut list” but I will say that I will support programs that are fiscally sound and advances student achievement and or student mental and physical wellness.

 

 
QUESTION #5 – Framingham has four level 3 schools, including two in your district. Even some of its level 2 school have significant achievement gaps. What can you do as a School Committee member to close the achievement gap? Do you support the turnaround plan at McCarthy Elementary School in your district? Why?
 
 I fully support the current turnaround plan being carried out at McCarthy School and I’m pleased that Superintendent Tremblay decided to dispatch Dr. Tiano to serve as Interim Principal following an unsuccessful search for a permanent principal this past summer. This will provide some stability while the school is in this turnaround regimen.
Furthermore, I attended the October 3rd school committee meeting where representatives from DSAC (District & Schools Assistance Center) provided an update on what has been done and the way forward.
I’m encouraged that there seems to be good communication and cooperation between DSAC, FPS & the affected school administrators and teachers in regards to curriculum, professional development and monitoring. In addition, according to the briefing the communication and information sharing between parents, the affected schools and teachers was frequent.
Most importantly the objectives have been communicated to our students and they seem to have been receptive to the turnaround plan.  If I’m elected I would support any fiscally sound academic program that will aid in the improvement of these level 3 schools.
 
QUESTION #6 – The contracts with almost all of the Framingham Public School unions expire in 2018. Why is your experience in dealing with union negotiations?  Do you support Interest-Based bargaining? Would you support a 1-year or a multi-year contract? How transparent should the School Committee be in its negotiations?
 

I do not have any direct experience in dealing with union negotiations but being aware of this situation I have done some reading about Labor contract negotiations.

If elected I would be in favor of interest-based bargaining because I believe that it initially creates a better atmosphere for all parties.

Secondly;  it can reduce the time hammering out an agreement and lastly but most importantly Interest- Based bargaining increases the chances of a better outcome for all parties.

In regards to transparency my intention and hope is that we as a committee will be as transparent as we can during the process.

 

 
QUESTION #7 – 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, which is located in your district. How will you enlist support for this project from conservative voters or taxpayers with no children in the public schools?

I believe most people in Framingham or anywhere else want good schools. However, I’m very cognizant of the fact that homeowners in Framingham are at their limit as far as property tax.  We’re facing a confluence of not so ideal situations; rising student enrollments, replacing a 60 year old building and asking taxpayers to increase their tax bill. The best way to enlist support for this is educating the public on the overall benefits of maintaining and sustaining a great school district. We have to convince most voters that the costs of building a new school will outweigh the negative aspects over time and it’s an investment that will pay dividends for the community.

 
 
 
QUESTION #8 – 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. How as a School Committee member can you do to make sure all students received an equal education in grades 6-7-8? Be specific.
 
As I’ve mentioned before, I strongly believe our first priority as a committee and community is student academic achievement. In that context the committee should ensure equity and fairness in programs offered, curriculum and policies. I don’t believe this is just a middle school issue we should expand that to look at our elementary feeder schools as well.  If elected I will spend considerable time looking into this issue to see where we can make changes if necessary.
 
QUESTION #9 – 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 would you take to improve communication? 
 

It’s interesting this question has come up because this issue has come up at least a dozen times since I’ve been speaking to people during my campaign.

The problem seems to be at certain schools communicating information to parents. This is unacceptable especially in this information age with all the technology at our disposal.

One approach to solving this would be to ask the superintendent to investigate this to see how wide spread the problem is and if necessary propose to strengthen the mechanisms already in place or create a system of tracking communications.

 
QUESTION #10 – Should Framingham Public Schools return to neighborhoods schools? Why or why not?
 

I have mixed feeling about this very important topic. There are academic, social and financial components to this issue. I completely understand the sentiments on either side for or against school choice.

If elected  I would like to review the efficacy of school choice because my main concerns are rising transportation costs and the equity of our schools which all leads to our main objective … academic achievement and creating opportunities for all students to succeed.

 

 
QUESTION #11 – MassBay Community College and Framingham State University is located in your district. Who can the the partnership between those higher education institutions with the Framingham Public Schools be expanded? 
 

We are incredibly fortunate to have these great institutions of higher learning in our District. The cost of college is a concern for most families and I believe we can find ways to help reduce that financial burden and stress.

While I was living in Texas there was a pilot program where eligible High School Juniors and Seniors may take up to 15 credits of college level courses sponsored by the local community college in partnership with the school district for a fraction of the cost. My daughter took advantage of this and she entered her freshman year of college with 12 credits. The best part of it was she received a state grant for the fees and because I was a veteran her tuition was waived.

I understand there is an existing partnership between FSU, MassBay with Framingham Schools as far as STEM courses during the summer and other enrichment programs.

If elected I would like to explore the opportunity to expand college level academic courses & opportunities to our High School students at reduced cost. This could be done in the evening, on Saturdays or during the summer held at a newly built Fuller Middle School.

 

 
QUESTION #12 – One of the major roles of the School Committee is to set policy. If elected to be the School Committee member from District 5, what policy change would you recommend? Why?
 
 At this time I have not formed an opinion on what particular policies that needs to be changed.
If elected, initially, we will  have a wide range of topics that will need to be addressed such as the FY 18 budget, the collective bargaining negotiations  and monitoring the progress of our underperforming schools. I think when your new it’s prudent to take everything in. I will talk to and build a rapport with my colleagues and other stakeholders and then start to formulate my own ideas and opinions on specific policies and then take the appropriate action if necessary.
 
QUESTION #13 – School bus rides are probably long for some.  I would fix it by looking at the efficacy of school choice and other possible related issues.
 
 
QUESTION #14 – What is your philosophy on special education? 

Special needs education is very near and dear to my heart, as many people out there may already know my son happens to be autistic and he is truly a gem and a gift. He in part has been instrumental in me becoming an educator, transitioning from a military occupation to civilian life wasn’t always easy but when I started working with small groups of students or one on one I found my calling. My philosophy is crystal clear and I will always be at the vanguard of protecting and advancing special needs causes.

 
QUESTION #15 –  There are more than 75 languages spoken by the students in the Framingham Public School district. Some students enter our district with gaps in their education, with limited English skills, and with serious deficiencies in academic subjects. How can you support the bilingual department when it comes to the budget? Be specific.

This is an ongoing and difficult issue,  in part its reflected in the turnaround plan for our 3 underperforming schools. In recent years the Commonwealth has required all academic educators to be qualified in teaching content to ELL students. I believe we will start to see the benefits of that effort in the near future.

My role on the School Committee will be to ensure we are on target and making progress reducing the achievement gap within that population and we are lobbying our State reps and Senators to increase funding to districts like Framingham so we can provide better curriculum and professional development.

 

 
QUESTION #16 – The most recently health study said Framingham middle and high school students are stressed. Students are getting less sleep, are more depressed, and considering suicide more than in previous years. How can you support socio-emotional and mental health issues in the district when it comes to preparing the 2018-19 school budget? Be specific.
Our society as a whole is more stressed, more depressed and our children are at the brunt of this. There are wider issues which is beyond the scope of a School Committee but as I mentioned before I will not propose a reduction or elimination of any program that is fiscally sound and meeting the mental/physical needs of our students.
I firmly believe that mental and physical wellness is an integral part of academic achievement. The RFL (resiliency for life) program is doing a remarkable job at the High School and is currently being launched at a few middle schools.
 
 
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 believe I should be evaluated on these areas; my commitment to overall student achievement, oversight of the Superintendent and stewardship of taxpayer dollars.  I believe these are the most important factors in creating a healthy, viable and fiscally sound school community which is successful in meeting its mission.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

Susan Petroni Framingham Source Editor Email: editor@FraminghamSource.com Phone: 508-315-7176

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