District 8 School Committee Candidate Jessica Barnhill

Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, September 17, Voters in District 8 will participate in a preliminary election. There will be three names on the ballot for District 8 School Committee. Voters will sect one individual to replace incumbent Gloria Pascual. SOURCE sent questionnaires to all three candidates. Two of the three returned the questionnaires. District 8 is comprised of Precincts 15 & 18. Both precincts votes at St. Tarcisius.

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 Jessica Barnhill

Age: 38

Occupation: Health and Wellness Teacher at Natick High School

Years lived in Framingham: 25

Have you ever been elected to office? (If yes, list position) No

Have you ever been elected to a leadership role with a PTO? (If yes, list position) No

Family: 1 son named Luca, 2 ½ years old

Political Website or Facebook page link: Jessica Barnhill for Framingham School Committee on Facebook

politics

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: The most recent event I attended was the back-to-school picnic. 

I would bring ______ to the School Committee. (just one word). PASSION

Would you have voted to support the new FTA contract? (yes or no) Yes.

Would you have voted to award a new 6-year contract to Superintendent Bob Tremblay? (yes or no) Yes.

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1) Why should voters in District 8 elect you to the Framingham School Committee?

As a longtime resident and a mother of a child who will be entering the Framingham Public Schools, I am deeply invested in Framingham. I’ve spent the past 15 years as a public-school teacher.  Throughout my tenure as an educator, I have served on the Natick superintendent’s advisory committee, building advisory committee, and I have been a part of numerous accreditation committees. I regularly write and implement high-quality, standards-based curriculum.  I am proud to be part of a district that is a leader in the Commonwealth with respect to a variety of initiatives. I can provide valuable feedback to the committee. I offer my experience and knowledge to the Framingham community. I am prepared to start advocating for our children and our teachers.

2) In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing the Framingham Public Schools? Give three specifics things you would do to fix the issue.

In my opinion, inequity is the biggest issue facing the Framingham Public Schools. In district 8 there is an opportunity gap. The existing inequities range from an excessive amount of time spent on a bus to lack of access to high-quality preschool.  

We need to focus our efforts to eliminate the disparities in our community.  Allocating resources to fund universal pre-k is an important investment. The bottom line is that all of our children deserve this opportunity.  However, consider the benefits that would extend throughout the entire district. The age of 3-8 is especially critical to a child. With the implementation of universal pre-k, I predict improvements in school performance, increased student achievement, and positive outcomes for teachers.

3) Should Framingham Public Schools return to neighborhoods schools? Why or why not? Keep in mind there is no neighborhood school in District 8.

There is a lot of value in neighborhood school models. I am hopeful that with a school choice data analysis and continuity with the superintendent we can reopen the conversation for further discussion.

4) Would you support the construction of a school on the Bethany Hill property? Why or Why not? If yes, what type of school?

Definitely yes. It would be a tremendous opportunity for our community. It’s a beautiful property. In terms of location, it would fit the needs of the City of Framingham. There needs to be another elementary school (k-5) on the south side. It does not make sense that 2 out of 3 of our children live south of Route 9, yet only 3 out of 9 of our elementary schools are located here.  From a historical standpoint, Framingham closed 5 elementary schools on the south side decades ago. Since then there has been a noticeable shift in demographics. With school facilities (located north of route 9) soon to be due for expensive maintenance and repair, now is the time to reassess. 

5) One of the major roles of the School Committee is to set policy. If elected to be the School Committee member from District 8, what policy change would you recommend? Why?   

With my educational background specific to Health and Wellness, I am particularly attuned to examining the district’s wellness policies. There are increased reports of anxiety, depression and substance abuse throughout most grade levels. We need to have resources and policies in place to support our children’s social and emotional health. In a time where we also see a high instance of childhood obesity and increased sedentary lifestyles, we have a responsibility to our children to support their total wellness. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the development of effective plans, procedures, routines, and systems we can use to address a broad range of safety, health, and emotional and social needs of students.

6) School bus rides are ____________________. I would fix it by ___________________________.

School bus rides are too long.

I would fix it by advocating for a new school located south of route 9. In addition, we need to address the financial and human cost of busing in our district.

7) There are 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 school committee members should be accountable for the following:

Meeting Professional Responsibilities –

A school committee member should consistently fulfill all professional responsibilities to high standards. A school committee member should attend all meetings, actively participate, appropriately engage the community, communicate effectively and respectively, work collaboratively, and respond to constituent communications in a timely manner. It is expected that a school committee member understands and complies with state and federal laws and mandates, school committee policies, collective bargaining agreements, and ethical guidelines.

She/he must model sound, professional judgment.

Transparency– For any elected position that heavily involves making decisions, especially ones that impact an entire district, transparency is important and it is necessary.   The school committee has a direct role in establishing school policy. There are many factors and perspectives to consider when writing a school policy.  One must seek out multiple sources of evidence, assimilate data, and consider the community-wide impact. Feedback from students, families, caregivers, community members, and organizations is an important consideration. Informed decision making uses multiple sources of evidence. Although certain situations warrant confidentiality (student safety, assessment results, accommodations etc), I strongly believe that transparency is a best practice when making decisions and establishing policy. Our elected officials must be accountable in this area.  

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

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

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