District 9 School Committee candidate Richard Baritz
District 9 is Precincts 16 & 17
Editor’s Note: If an answer is blank, the candidate chose not to answer the question.
Occupation: Retired IRS agent
Years lived in Framingham: 36
Family (optional): widowed, with 2 children who attended and graduated from the public schools in Framingham
Volunteerism: over ten years for both positions. The first as a town meeting member and the second as a board of director for a local condominium association.
Editor’s Note: Candidates were asked to provide one-word answers only.
- Framingham Public Schools are essential.
- Have you ever been elected to a leadership role with a PTO? No
- Have you ever served on a Framingham School Council? No
- What was your favorite subject in school? History
- Will you vote yes for a debt exclusion override for a new Fuller Middle School? undetermined
- At this time, what letter grade would you give Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay? A
- What was the last Framingham Public School event you attended: School Committee meeting.
- Favorite children’s book: unsure
- Do you support free universal preschool in Framingham? undetermined
- Wi-Fi access at the middle school and Framingham High is questionable.
- Should the $100 athletic fee be eliminated? undetermined
- Do you support starting Framingham High School later? undetermined
- Do you support leveling at the middle school level? yes
- Would you support a longer day for school in Framingham? undetermined
- Should school start after Labor Day? yes
- Should February vacation be eliminated? undetermined
- I would bring COMMITMENT to the School Committee. (just one word).
- What is your favorite place in Framingham? (just one): my home
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 9 elect you to the new Framingham School Committee?
I am seeking election onto the School Committee to help our children achieve in life by having a good solid basis in the Framingham public schools, no matter the direction they decide to move forward with. I believe that every child, no matter where they live in the city, should have this foundation and it is inherent for the city government to provide this basis to every student with efficiency and sound financial management.
QUESTION #2 – The #1 role of a School Committee member is three prong which are policy, financing and staffing, all of equal importance.
QUESTION #3 – In your opinion what is the biggest issue facing the Framingham Public Schools? How will you work to fix it?
Unfunded mandates. Try to form a coalition of towns and cities in the state to gain some prestige and influence to stop the continuation of new unfunded mandates by the state legislature and hopefully have the state begin to fund an ever increasing percentage of the unfunded mandates already on the books.
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?
As far as I know the budget for the 2018-2019 school year is not prepared as of yet, therefore I do not know which programs, if any, need to be protected from cuts or need an increase in funding. If by level funding it is meant service levels remain the same then the budget must go up to keep the level service. However, if level funding means no change in dollars from the previous year then service levels will drop. I believe that we must look at ways to gain efficiencies so that service levels that need to go up can. Also, that the school budget for 2018-2019 remain as close to the previous year as reasonably possible.
QUESTION #5 – Framingham has four level 3 schools, including one 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 Wilson IB School? Why or Why not?
I believe that the District and Social Assistance Centers (DSAC) plan for the Woodrow Wilson School is a good place to start the turnaround from a level 3 school to a level 2 or hopefully a level 1 school. The personnel are professional educators who are charged by the state to chart ways to turnaround schools that are underperforming. I support that Framingham should do everything in its power to cooperate with DSAC and hopefully this plan can be used as a blueprint for all schools in the District.
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?
While I have no experience with union negotiations, I believe that interest-based bargaining hopefully brings a win-win situation to both sides, in other words, this type of negotiation hopefully will develop an agreement that is beneficial to both sides. I would support a multi year contract for stability without the disruption of contract negotiations on a yearly basis. The School Committee should be as transparent as possible.
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 will not entertain any questions as to what is not fact and is a supposition. However, if a new school was proposed, I would research the proposition checking facts, figures and alternatives and if I was in agreement, I would do everything in my power to relate why this new school is needed and is the best remedy. I would also stress to all voters that it is the responsibility of the city government to provide a solid foundation for all students in the public schools. This responsibility goes down further than the city government to the individual voters no matter what their views or circumstances are.
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.
I spoke out last year, at the 7/16/16 School Committee meeting about the reinstatement of social studies teachers at the Fuller School for the 6th & 7th grade and also signed a petition for the same. I stated on the petition in a comment “ Equity for all students no matter what school they go to is so important.” I might note, at that time, while both the Cameron and Walsh middle schools had certified social studies teachers at all grade levels, 6 thru 8, the Fuller school only had the same at the 8th grade level. I will work unequivocally that all students, no matter where live in the city, have an equal opportunity in our public schools.
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?
I do not know what communications happen at present so it would be difficult to suggest ways to improve them. One thing I can comment on is that I tried to look at the minutes from the October 3, 2017 School committee meeting, in which I was in attendance, but I couldn’t find the minutes on the school cite.
QUESTION #10 – Should Framingham Public Schools return to neighborhoods schools? Why or why not?
The idea of neighborhood schools seems correct not only for the students socially so they have friends that live near them, but also it seems that the logistics to get students to and from their school might be less cumbersome and less costly with neighborhood schools. However, I do not have all the facts and would not take a stance until I can research all aspects of neighborhood schools versus the system that is now in place.
QUESTION #11 – One of the major roles of the School Committee is to set policy. If elected to be the School Committee member from District 9, what policy change would you recommend? Why?
Again, I do not know the policy’s that might need changing at the present time. However, the policy of school handbooks was addressed at the 10/3/17 school committee meeting and I was in complete agreement that the handbooks should not differ on basic school policy and should be up to date with current school policy, however, understanding that different schools have specific procedures and/or policy’s for that school and those specifics would differentiate each handbook for the individual school.
QUESTION #12 School bus rides are costly. I would fix it by – please refer to my answer to question 10.
QUESTION #13 – What is your philosophy on special education?
Special education is needed for those students who have special needs due to being mentally, physically, socially and/or emotionally delayed, which enables these students to reach their maximum potential in society.
QUESTION #14 – 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.
I would imagine that the goal that the school system can ascertain for theses students is to get them to be relatively fluent in English as soon as possible. I believe how a school committee member can support the bilingual department is to budget enough funds for the department to efficiently achieve the aforementioned goal for every student in need for this type of service.
QUESTION #15 – 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.
I am not a mental health professional, therefore, seeking a professional’s insight as to what can be achieved and the resources needed to help positively effect this problem has to be obtained, before any decisions concerning school fiscal resources can be discussed.
QUESTION #16 – In 2016-17 school year, 85.8 percent of the students at Wilson IB school were designated high-needs by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. How will you work to support the teachers and staff at the only school located in your district but still meet the need of all students in the Framingham Public School district?
Please refer to my answer of question 5.
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?
1) Commitment to apply myself to the position, I was elected to. 2) Ability to work well with all parties involved in the process, such as other school committee members, educators, administrators and staff, in order to achieve the best results possible for the students. 3) Ability to contribute to the premise that the budget has to be as efficient as achievable, so the students have the quality education they need and deserve with the least possible burden to the overall city resources.