District 6 School Committee candidate Michelle Brosnahan
District 6 is Precincts 10 and 11.
Editor’s Note: If an answer is blank, the candidate chose not to answer the question.
Age: Old enough to be an original Flyer and remember watching the Flyers lose to Flutie and the Redman
Occupation: Occupational Therapist
Years lived in Framingham: Long enough to remember the building freeze and playing inside Macomber’s mansion
Family: Big loud Italian
Volunteerism: Catechist at St.Bridgets. I used to do more but School Committee takes a lot of time
Editor’s Note: Candidates were asked to provide one-word answers only.
- Framingham Public Schools are: Inequitable
- Have you ever been elected to a leadership role with a PTO? Yes
- If yes, which school and role: Stapleton – secretary, vp and president
- Have you ever served on a Framingham School Council: When invited
- If yes, which school? meeting at Walsh and Meeting at HEmmenway
- What was your favorite subject in school? E=mc2
- Will you vote yes for a debt exclusion override for a new Fuller Middle School? No
- At this time, what letter grade would you give Superintendent Dr. Robert Tremblay? A-
- What was the last Framingham Public School event you attended:Policy Sub-committee meeting
- Favorite children’s book:Where the Wild Things Are
- Should Framingham Public Schools Provide free universal preschool? Yes
- Wi-Fi access at the middle school and Framingham High is Deplorable
- Should the $100 athletic fee be eliminated? eventually
- Do you support starting Framingham High School later? No
- Do you support leveling at the middle school level? No
- Would you support a longer day for school in Framingham? No
- Should school start after Labor Day? Yes
- Should February vacation be eliminated? Yes
- I would bring PERSEVERANCE to the School Committee.
- What is your favorite place in Framingham? Village Hall
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 – You are currently serving on the Framingham School Committee, elected town-wide. Why should voters in District 6 elect you to the new Framingham School Committee?
I set a goal when I began 4 years ago to fix the Policy Manual by bringing it up to date and relevant to our district in order for all stakeholders to understand their responsibilities and provide the most equitable services. In order to have a common district goal that is obtainable all stakeholders must have the same set of policies which must always be kept within the ever changing laws. Policies also protect the rights of anyone involved in the PSD. In the past two years as convener I was able to whittle the policy manual down and update 46 policies. At the next Open Meeting you will see several more policies updated and several being voted out as they are duplicate and/or contradictory to what the District needs are. With that said we have started to work on the communication piece across the district in order to have all Student Handbooks up to date and equitable across the District.
QUESTION #2 – In your opinion what is the biggest issue facing the Framingham Public Schools? Budget
How will you work to fix it?
I have already started by writing a policy allowing corporate sponsorship, that has been taken advantage of by several local businesses. I am working on an ongoing relationship with a National Retail Chain to support our arts dept. I have written a letter to State Auditor Bump’s office for one unfunded mandate and with the teamwork of administrative staff they are now looking at the full 30 million in unfunded mandates. Every year I have written at least two Resolutions which address our most needy students while protecting the pockets of every taxpayer in this town by holding the government accountable for the programs y they require we participate in. The biggest issue I see is the loss of control of the budget by the committee. Along the the leadership of both the committee and the town has forgotten that the School Committee is by law fiscally liable for the budget. The past two years the budget was handed to us and only one other member and myself fought for more. This past budget, behind closed doors, our current leadership agreed with the Administration, the CFO and the Selectmen. That left four of the members out of the loop and it was over and done. We recently found an $800,000 surplus. The CFO and our leadership want to give it back to the town. I will be voting no on that question. Last budget we were deferred on the promised capital budget line item for technology. We don’t have staff in front of students, some of the materials teachers are given are lackluster and minimal to say the least. The amount of time spent by teachers making copies is wasted time and money never mind the face to face time lost with our students. I personally feel that I worked just as hard to become an elected official just as any other, yet treated like a sub standard group. It is time to stand up and demand to be heard. We need to be allowed to represent the people who entrusted us with our most precious resource, our children.
QUESTION #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?
No, the job of making sure everyone in properly licensed is the job of HR. Did anyone notice after I called for an HR audit Ms. Ceglowski left the District in two weeks with a bonus. There were members of the leadership at that time that were well aware of the situation and never informed the committee.
I would not answer this question but someone else has already put this information out there without my knowledge they were doing so, so I mind as well. I voted for immediate termination but advised the committee that in my opinion we have to do it a manner not to open us up to a lawsuit, which we seem to be piling up. Also it was very important to me that Dr. Scott was not crucified publicly, ruining his life and making him unemployable. There is not one reader out there that has never made a bad decision. There are plenty of readers out there who have had their lives ruined over them. The means do not always justify the end. It would not have done anyone any good to throw a dagger at the man. First priority was to be able to get a new Superintendent that would want to be in Framingham and saw it as a destination job. No one would have applied for a job knowing that the School Committee who they would be responsible to would be willing to chop their head off without a bat of an eyelash. I am a taxpayer as well. I personally took several public insults during meetings from Dr. Scott and it turned my stomach. My personal feelings was not why I was voted into my seat. I was voted because people trust that I do the right thing whether or not it is my best personal interest. I did what I thought was right for the entire community which is every taxpayer in this town as well as for Dr.Scott . Was I happy? No, but it was what I thought would be the most righteous way to protect everyone.
QUESTION #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?
The Communications and Public Relations Task Force had some wonderful recommendations that were never followed up on. I was not on that committee. As much as I would like to clone myself and be everywhere all the time it is not possible. What I have finally gotten a Superintendent to agree with me on is forming a system that policy will be distributed through. If anyone has watched the last meeting the Convener of the sub-committee that was in charge of implementing the recommendations of the above mentioned tasks force was calling my idea a waste of time and did not want to be bothered with it. Personally it was insulting as I felt that since we had Student Handbooks that were being handed out to parents with old policies that I did not know where their policies even came from and no longer existed, and even though we will not be printing new handbooks till the 18-19 school year it was important to start a system where each school will be able to get the updated information immediately and our policy manual that is available to every member of the public will also have it readily available to them and everyone will have uniform accurate information as soon as the ink dries.
QUESTIOn #5 – Should Framingham Public Schools return to neighborhoods schools? Why or why not?
I would love to see neighborhood schools again. The question is, is it possible. There was a previous question about leveling at the middle school level which I feel will only be harmful to the population that needs the extra support. In order to save taxpayers money Laura Spear and her staff have done a tremendous job of building programs to keep our special needs population in our district, in their homes with their families where they belong. It would not be possible with the funding we get to have these programs at every neighborhood school. The law states that these children are to be taught in the least restrictive environment possible. Putting them on busses for hours sending out of district or sending them to schools away from their support systems is not the least restrictive environment and we are lucky to have Administration who think outside the box always keeping the least restrictive environment in mind. We have a shortage of schools on the south side of town. We are struggling to build a new middle school which I feel is not the answer to our ever growing population. Right there you have two major equity issues. Do I think it would be great if every kid had a 10 minutes bus ride to and from school. I would love to see neighborhoods where the kids actually know each other. There is a lot of learning that goes on during play even all the way to the High School ages. The brain is not fully formed until approx 23-25 years of age. I do not understand how I keep getting told that there is no additional cost for 9 busses to come through my neighborhood every morning as opposed to three. It just never adds up for me. There is money that could be saved there. If Framingham had not let their buildings go to waste we would not be in this predicament. With some creativity and outside the box thinking we could get there. Time to come up with a solid plan is needed.
QUESTION #6 – One of the major roles of the School Committee is to set policy. You have served as the policy chair. Name 2 policies that have made a difference in the district since you started serving on the School Committee and why?
JBD – GENDER IDENTITY SUPPORT- We needed to move from tolerance to acceptance. We Talk about special needs students, about SLIFE students, we about ELA students,these students also have a need for tremendous support. This policy gives them that and takes the burden of worry of their parents. It provides a stable district wide support system. I would love to take sole credit for JBD as I am so proud of it but I can’t. I have such disdain for the word tolerance. I much prefer the word acceptance. A shout out for Ms. Steyr who prompted the need working with Ms. Spear and Dr. Diaz tirelessly to create a supportive system. Matt Torti who had to make spaces and somehow fit immediate changes into his budget and his crew for doing such a great job to meet the needs to support this policy. The staff at the PICC had to make changes, technology and reporting had to be changed. I have to say it was an incredible feat as there were so many departments involved. It was just a great feeling to see such a group of diverse people working together to accomplish a task all because to them the kids come first.
KHB – ADVERTISING ON SCHOOL PROPERTY AND SPONSORSHIP ARRANGEMENTS -The “Ah Ha” moment. I was at my son’s football game in Natick, on the scoreboard was a bank advertisement. We are continuously being shorted government funding. Taxpayers do not want to pay anymore. We get new students at high amounts after the cut off date that go unfunded not only for the current year but the year after as well. Don’t be fooled by the words level funding. Everyone wants to see athletic fees cut. Yet I see disgusting shabby uniforms out there this fall season. We are the FRAMINGHAM FLYERS, every student deserves to be proud of their uniform, jacket,hat whatever it may be. Mr. Spear does not have a money tree anywhere, I looked! There is no money tree behind the stage curtain either, but there are a lot of trophies back there! That says a lot. We need income from outside sources and that was a way to get it. Many students come to school just for the arts and sports. These programs hold the accountable for their school grades.
What one policy would you wish to introduce if elected? Why? Geez, that’s a hard question right now with so much going on already and preparing for a new form of government. At policy sub-committee meeting we we just passed a policy for first vote of processing of policies. We just discussed the other night at the School Committee meeting students from Framingham that attend schools outside FPS are in need of afterschool programs like the middle school basketball and band. They are all Framingham taxpayers. What’s really in my craw right at this very moment is Campaign Etiquette. I am finding some of the shenanigans deplorable. Personally I have tried to lay low as I am absolutely embarrassed by the actions of some candidates towards other candidates. We are all elected officials we are all working towards a common goal of betterment of our schools. I would like to see people sanctioned for intentional disruptive behavior. I topped the ticket last year running against two of my committee members and never did any of the three of us say a word about each other. I literally cried as I was with Don when he lost, it was heartbreaking but I can hold my head high and know I won fair and square with grace, pride and courtesy of my fellow running mates who I sat at the table with and worked so hard with. I still hold the highest regard for those two gentlemen.
QUESTION #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.
Here I have to say once again the School Committee has been bypassed. We are supposed to vote on any new curriculum that is going to be offered before it’s rolled out and that does not happen. We are supposed to vote on any new positions that are created and that does not happen. There is not a person who knows me to be quiet and meek. There have been many meetings I have wanted to just get up and walk out as I feel as though the position of School Committee Member has lost it’s purpose and there is no longer a system of checks and balances. That being said I would have to say it is my resolutions that I write. Finding it difficult to change anything at the district level I feel at the State level although it takes a long time you can actually make a difference. Many people are not aware of what McKinney Vento is but because Framingham has so many dirt cheap hotels on Rt. 9 we tend to get an unfair share of these student’s. Ninety Nine percent of these student are high needs students and extremely expensive to educate. The average stay at one school for these student’s is 3 months in one place. How do teachers teach when they are looking at new different faces every day. How does a student learn when the curriculum they are looking at constantly changes? There is no teaching and learning happening but a lot of undue un fair frustration as the teachers want them to succeed and the student’s themselves want to succeed. One of the first resolution I had written is to find a system to give these students a more stable environment in which they know they will have a bed a meal and the same smiling home room teacher every day. It’s simply Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, not rocket science. For the money the government has spent bussing these fragile students all over the place they could have built small apartment complex’s and hired staff to supervise them at night.
QUESTION #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 do not believe in level funding because there is no such animal. The budget is based on the head count at October first. Anyone coming in after that is unfunded. Now the town bases what they pitch in on a certain percentage of the head count from the year prior. As I previously stated our unfunded students go unfunded for anywhere up to 14.5 months. Level funding is a smoke and mirrors show. Being given a number from the Town’s CFO is also not a budget. The leadership has allowed it to happen for several years now and it’s wrong. As I mentioned before when you can not get anything done at the District level move up to State level. One of the resolutions I wrote this year is to move the headcount date to mid March as January, February and March as this is our peak for new enrollments. This way we would only be carrying our unfunded students 3.5 months and those students would be included in the raise of the following year’s budget. We need an increase not only with money but in space which is going to burden us with multiple line item increases. There is no surplus of 800.000.00 when we have teachers sharing curriculum plan books and making copies constantly. We will need more technology money next year as we were deferred this year.
QUESTION #9 – If you could spend $100,000 in the Framingham Public Schools, where would the money go? Why?
I would put the money into our RFL and Sage programs. 100,000.00 in our district is pittens. We are starting up theRFL program at Fuller and working on revamping the SAGE program. 100,000.00 would not sustain a position for any amount of time but it would sustain supplies and materials need for the two programs. It would also be helpful to our food services department as we are feeding more and more of our students before and after school. To hire and aide for 3-4 schools for one year and then take the position away would be just a waste.
QUESTION #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?
Good schools bring in more people so when you start to build and more people want to come and we build more revenue gets created. As neighborhoods open up property values rise. My uncle moved here I think in the early 60’s. I paid more for my car than he did for his house back then. If he were to sell it he is looking at an earnings of 400.000.00. That is more money than my generation will ever see out of SS or their 401K’s
QUESTION #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?
QUESTION #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?
QUESTION #13 – School bus rides are sometimes too long and sometimes empty. I will catch a lot of slack from administration for that one but I see it with my own eyes. I would fix it by offering one way fares or round trip fares with less busses at the end of the regular school day and more busses for the after school programs.
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.
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?
QUESTION #16 – Name three things you have specifically done to improve education in Framingham.
I attended every meeting at Fuller last year and fought for RFL for that school. This summer I got the State Auditor’s t come in and look at our unfunded mandates which will raise our budget and take burden off taxpayers f that comes to fruition even 2 million out of the 30 million is better than anyone has ever gotten. Both my REsolution are 2 of the 9 that are going forward for vote this year at MASC. (I just want to make sure Chris Walsh has a job.)
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?
The three things the School Committee is responsible for is the oversight of the Superintendent,Policy and Budget. AS I have said prior our leadership has met behind closed doors and made arrangements with other parties leaving 4 members unaware and unable to do anything about it. While some members would let that just go you have to go beyond and be creative in order to rise above the problem. What kind of committee member are you? Someone who just shows up to meetings, someone who starts good debate, someone who takes action. Every person is an individual and has their strengths and weaknesses how have I taken my strengths and used them in a positive way, and how have I let other committee member take my weaknesses and make the stronger. Have I grown in mindset from last year to this year. Have I fought to improved equity not only among students and staff but all taxpayers as I need to be mindful that I am spending their money and they might not be using the school services. Have I been a team player or wreaked havoc? Or you can just judge me by my shoes. I like shoes.