UPDATED: Q&A With District 9 School Committee Candidate William LaBarge

FRAMINGHAM – Former Town Meeting member William LaBarge is one of two candidates seeking the District 9 School Committee seat. The current District 9 representative chose not to run for re-election to the School Committee but instead run for City Council.

Election day is Tuesday, November 5. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Voters will elect 9 School Committee members, by districts, for a 2-year term.

There are three contested races in Districts 3, 8, and 9.

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WILLIAM LABARGE

Age: 62

Occupation: Retired Infrastructure Analyst

Years lived in Framingham: 26 years

Elected Experience: Town Meeting Member from 2004 to 2017

Volunteerism:

Why did you decide to run for School Committee:

I decided to run for School Committee because I believe I am the only candidate from District 9 that can be a positive force on the School Committee and prevent it and the School Administration from becoming bogged down in negativity and incivility. I believe in the power of being positive and moving forward in a cooperative and collaborative manner with those that are best positioned to improve our schools.

I am proud of my consistent voice and voting record at Town Meeting in support of our public schools. I have been and will continue to be committed to equity and excellence for every student in Framingham. Equity and excellence are not possible unless all schools, wherever located in Framingham, provide an equal and excellent education for our children. Every student deserves an equal opportunity to learn and succeed. No student should be left behind because of where he or she resides. I
am determined to have the next school built where it’s needed most — where most students are located and the schools are not. For most students, being bussed long distances to and from school should remain an option, not a necessity.

We have a moral obligation to provide ALL our children with the skills, support, and access to a brighter future. I am committed to be a tireless and full-time School Committee Member to ensure Framingham has a system that works and promotes learning, excellence, and growth for ALL its students.

Website or Facebook page link: None

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SHORT QUESTIONS
Candidates were asked to submit one word or one sentence answers to a series of questions.

The best thing about the Framingham Public School District is Diversity.

What letter grade would you give Superintendent of Schools Bob Trembly? Incomplete

Would you have voted for a 6-year contract for the Superintendent of Schools? (yes or no) No

Do you support the new Unit A teachers contract? Yes

What letter grade would you give the busing system for Framingham Public Schools? F

What was the last Framingham Public School event you attended: Laramie Project play at Framingham High School in December 2010

Favorite Children’s Book Harry Potter

Should the school year start after Labor Day (yes or no) No

Should February vacation be eliminated from the calendar? (yes or no) No

Should there be recess at the middle school level (yes or no) Yes

Do you support free preschool for all 4 year olds? (yes or no) Yes

Should there even be homework at the elementary school level? (yes or no) Yes

Should there be metal detectors at the Framingham High School? (yes or no) No

Would you support virtual classes at Framingham High on snow days? (yes or no) No

Do you support a restorative justice system for the middle and high schools? (yes or no) Yes

Framingham teachers are dedicated.

I would never cut money from this department in the budget: Can never say never. It depends.

The Framingham Public School System needs equity.

I would bring civility to the School Committee.

I would want to serve on the building and grounds subcommittee.

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IN-DEPTH QUESTIONS
(Editor’s Note: Candidates were told they could have 350 words to answer. Longer answers will be cut at the sentence closest to 350 words.)

Editor’s Note: In two of the questions, SOURCE sent to the District 9 candidates, it mentioned second term as opposed to first term. To be fair to both candidates both questions which were published for a few hours, have been deleted. The news outlet believes that voters can still understand where the District 9 candidates stand on school issues based on the published 13 questions below as opposed to 15 questions.

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1 Specific criteria is used to measure a Superintendent. Criteria is used to evaluate a teacher. How should you as a School Committee member be evaluated? What three things should voter hold you accountable for after your 2-year term?

I should be evaluated on the basis of whether I was effective in my advocacy for increasing equity for southside students, insuring busing is on time, and eliminating food insecurity for students.

2. The School Committee is responsible for the budget. Do you support a level-funded, level service, or an increase in the Framingham Public Schools budget for the 2020-2021 school year? Why?

I would support an increase in the budget because Framingham stands to receive up to 14 million dollars extra under the soon-to-be-enacted school reimbursement formula known as the Student Opportunity Act.

3. The Superintendent just received a 6-year contract. Accountability is important. What three things will you hold him accountable for over the next two years?

I would hold the Superintendent accountable for improving student achievement in all our schools, presenting a viable plan to close the education and opportunity gaps between schools, and presenting a viable plan to handle the rising population of students, particularly in South Framingham where many apartment buildings are now under construction.

4. The Framingham Elementary Schools are racially imbalanced today. It was this issue that brought about school choice years ago. Should Framingham Public Schools be redistricted to 9 district schools as opposed to school choice. Why and why not?


Until new schools are built in the southside where two-thirds of the students live and only one-third of the schools are presently located, district schools throughout Framingham is impossible.

5. The state now has MCAS 2.0 to evaluate students and schools? But in your opinion, how should a student or a school be evaluated in Framingham” How will you know Framingham students are achieving? Be specific.


The existing rigid testing standard makes little sense. The circumstances of the individual taking the test needs to be considered in an assessment. For example, the scores of newly arrived children, children who are not fluent in English, and special needs students should be counted separately from others. Individual students should also be tracked from year-to-year in addition to being tracked as an entire grade. The poverty rate of a city or town should also be considered.

6. There are significant achievement gaps in the Framingham Public Schools. Name three things you can do as a School Committee member to help close those gaps by 2022.


First, the budget must provide for additional recourses and services where needed.
Second, the schools must begin working with families to help them give adequate support to their children in school.

Third, we should have a mentoring program that would provide each at-risk student with a mentor.

7. Framingham middle and high school students are stressed. The MetroWest Health Foundation studied also showed an alarming rate of suicide attempts. What can the school system and the school committee do to help the mental health of students? Identify 3 specific steps.


The schools need to provide students with the knowledge of where to go if and when they need help. We also need to provide enough therapists and nurses to handle the students in need. And most importantly, the schools must give special attention to transgender and LGBTQ students, especially transgender students, 90% of whom have had suicidal thoughts. And, of course, we must train our teachers and staff on how to spot student depression.

8. What is the biggest issue facing District 9 in the School System? What can you do to address the issue? Be specific.


The effect of living in poverty with its high incidences of crime and drug abuse is the biggest issue facing District 9. Eliminating food insecurity is an imperative is important throughout the city, but particularly in District 9.

9. Attendance is an issue in the district for many students. What can you do as a School Committee member to make classes a priority for students and families?


What I proposed regarding busing would help greatly as would my proposals to make parents more aware and to provide additional school therapists. I would also support the Superintendent’s proposed marketing campaign.

10. In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing Wilson Elementary School, in your district? And how does that impact the feeder school? What can you do to fix the problem?

We need an addition elementary school built south of Route 135 so that District 9 students could attend the new Fuller School instead of being bused to the Cameron School on the northside.

11. City voters approved a new Framingham Middle School, but that is just the beginning of the school district’s needs. Tell voters your priorities for the district in regards to facilities over the next 5 to 10 years? Be specific.

I would convert the Barbieri School to a regular southside school and transfer its language emersion program to a northside school.

12. A parent comes to you and complains about their child’s teacher being ethnically- biased. A parent says the principal is not following your child’s IEP. A teacher complains to you about the principal or central office. What steps would you take?

I would tell the parent to speak with the alleged offender and, if not satisfied, go up the chain of command to the principal and, if still not satisfied, contact the Superintendent’s office.

13. Do you think students are safe in the Framingham Public Schools” Why or Why Not? Cite ways to improve safety in the schools.


Yes, I do think students are safe in the Framingham Public Schools. However, I would add to that safety by making sure every student knows if they see something wrong, they should immediately say something to a trusted adult.

Framingham Source Editor Susan Petroni

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

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