Occupation: I own and operate, along with my husband, Carmel Movers, a certified women owned business.
Do you have school-aged children? Yes, I have a 6th grader, and an 11th grader (And a Class of 2021 graduate)
Do your child(ren) attend Framingham Public Schools? Yes
Why did you decide to run for School Committee: I decided to run for school committee because I feel my district deserves a voice and a passionate advocate. Though I am a busy business owner, wife, and mother, I am fortunate to have some time flexibility in my life and a very supportive family. My children are older now, and while it will still be a juggling act, it will be less of a struggle than when our children were younger, and I feel what I can bring to the table will be helpful. I am not a political person, but I know I want what’s best. I know I can be the new voice for our residents’ concerns, but also advocate for high quality, equitable and inclusive education across the district.
Website or Facebook page link: N/A
The best thing about the Framingham Public School District is Diversity.
What letter grade would you give Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay? B
What letter grade would you give the new busing system for Framingham Public Schools? D (Not sure all the blame lies on the busing company)
What was the last Framingham Public School event you attended: The New Fuller Middle School ribbon cutting & open house
What was the last Framingham High athletic event you attended A football game.
Should there be more recess time? (yes or no) I cannot answer this with one word. I would love to give a definitive yes/no answer, but will hold my opinion until I understand the entire impact of more or less recess.
Do you support free preschool for all 4 year olds? (yes or no) Yes
Should police officers be at Framingham High? (yes or no) Yes
Should the school year start after Labor Day every year? (yes or no) No
Should February vacation be eliminated from the calendar? (yes or no) No
Would you support virtual classes at Framingham High on snow days? (yes or no) Yes, as long as it counts towards learning time.
Framingham teachers are: Incredible
I would never cut money from Health and Wellness in the budget.
School cafeteria food is awesome, okay, needs improvement (pick one) Needs Improvement.
Should Framingham High students complete 25 hours of community service before graduation? (yes or no) Yes on community service, but perhaps less hours.
I would bring an honest, collaborative voice, to the School Committee.
Should teachers and staff be mandated to have the COVID vaccine? (yes or no) Yes
Should students be mandated to have the COVID vaccine like they are mandated for measles, mumps etc vaccines? (yes or no) Yes
When elected, I would want to serve on the Teaching and Learning subcommittee.
If I was asked to read to elementary students, I would want to read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
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 voters hold you accountable for after your 2-year term?
I should be held accountable for listening to the community, listening to my school committee peers, and offering a different perspective or best practices to find a suitable solution to issues that come up. I will not always have the answer to everything. I will be asking questions so that I have a better understanding as I learn this new-to-me role. I want to make sure that in the end, what is best for our students is achieved through my actions. I am a firm believer that actions are more important than words. I want my community to know that I will back up my words with actions in my purview to the best of my ability, and that is how I should be evaluated.
2) Even with a new contract and a new bus company, the transportation system is not working at an A+ level. Some students are consistently late for school due to buses, and some children have hour-plus bus rides home. It is a complicated issue, but in the end the School Committee is responsible for the busing contract. What will you do as a School Committee member to fix the busing problem?
The bus issue is complicated as there are many different factors involved. First, I do know that it is hard to get qualified employees, and this is true for many industries in the post pandemic times. Hopefully as things start to get back to normal or more like pre-pandemic times, this will not be such a big part of the problem. In the last several months NRT (the current bus company) has given numbers at the school committee meetings, but the numbers or the outcome for our students are not changing for the better.
Double bus runs that are currently happening for 4 schools (Fuller middle school and the three elementary schools south of rt 9), are resulting in kids missing out on breakfast, and learning time. When this happens, it not only effects the late children – the effect ripples to teachers and students already in school as classrooms gets disrupted. This is not a good look for NRT or the district which is not coming up with a better solution.
The right answer isn’t to let one person in transportation make all the decisions. The person in this position needs more direction and guidance. NRT needs to be a better partner and be accountable, but the district also has a responsibility to be a good partner as well. I have not seen the bus contract, but I would hope that the scope of work that was bid on by NRT was a complete picture of what our district needs are.
3) 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 2024.
Making sure all the schools have the same support systems, same curriculums, and same student accountability will help bridge some of the gaps in our achievement. These things would fall under Teaching and Learning. Though the different levels of the schools (elementary, middle, and high schools) work together, are they collaborating enough? I would like to see that happen. Are best practices shared? Is bad behavior dealt with consistently in all schools? Is parent outreach happening? Are parents engaging in school activities – if not, why? Parents need to be a part of the education process. Are we communicating with parents to be proactive and productive or reactive and negative? We need to do better for our kids.
4) Prior to the pandemic, many Framingham middle and high school students were stressed. The MetroWest Health Foundation studies show an alarming rate of suicide attempts. But mental health issues significantly increased during the pandemic. What can the school system and the school committee do to help the mental health of students? Identify 3 specific steps.
First, we need to make sure that our teachers are confident in helping identify students that are struggling. The first people to see a change in students are the teachers. They are the ones who see how the students interact with peers, how they are doing assignment-wise, and notice behavioral issues. Our teachers are not just educators, and mandated reporters – they could be mentors, they can be confidants for students. Students don’t always go to the guidance counselors or other adult staff that are there to help. This could be due to pride, or lack of connection to the adult they would only see when something is wrong. We need to make sure that our teachers are confident in helping to identify students.
We need to give teachers a positive way to reach out to the student or the family and help and engage them, so help is received. Do our teachers have this type of training? Do we have facilitators in our district that could provide that training?
Secondly, are we working with our community leaders to create social activities in our community, so our students are engaged outside of school and have a place to go? After the elementary age, many students are home alone and for long periods of time.
Third, are our students being shown how to make positive action plans for future goals? Sometimes having goals is helpful as they set expectations for themselves, and have a path set for success. There are not great answers here and it will take collaboration with many professionals to come up with sustainable ideas on how to help with our students.
5) 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 2022-23 school year? Why?
I support an increase in the budget. The needs for our children due to the pandemic has changed. We must make up for lost learning time due to being 100% remote for over a year of learning. The learning gaps need to be closed to make sure all children are on appropriate grade level by receiving the right personal services as each child has different needs. This will likely increase the cost of education, and we need to make sure this is included in our future budgets.
We will also need to increase the mental health resources availability to our students, as we can see there are also social emotional gaps that have been lost as well. We need to support the needs of our learners, and we need to appropriate new or additional funds. The cost of living has increased, the cost of goods and services have increased, consumables have increased, but we need to be able to afford what our students deserve for a quality education. If we are always budgeting only for what we have always done in the past, how are we going to be better in the future? How will we be able to successfully support our children? Having a level-funded or level service budget doesn’t allow for us to change or grow with the needs of our students.
6) The Superintendent received a 6-year contract by the last School Committee. Accountability is important. What three things will you hold him accountable for over the next two years?
First, we need to get our curriculum balanced at each level of education. All schools should be held accountable for processes and procedures maintained that are consistent, and clear all the time.
Second, we need to figure out how we can engage more parents, even if it means changing times of events, or using our PTO’s for engagement events (not fundraising). We should be showcasing our student talents even to their parents; we need to close the home/school gap to maximize support for our students.
Third, there has been a lot of turnover recently in the current administration, and I would like to understand more about that. Maybe we need more collaboration on hiring procedures. Having a good curriculum, lots of family support and great administrators working hard for our students everyday can help lead us to greater success as a district. Our superintendent is great at going out of his way to show Framingham he is a strong partner and advocate.
7) One of the major roles of the School Committee is to set policy. Which policy would you like to change or propose during your 2-year term?
I cannot make a suggestion without asking appropriate questions.
There are so many policies that I have just begun to learn and understand and have started a list of questions about them to make sure my understanding is correct. I cannot honestly answer this question at this time.
8) Recently an equity audit was taken of the school district. In your opinion, what is the #1 issue that must be addressed in your term that was identified by the audit? Why?
After reading through the audit, Family Engagement and Investment needs to be addressed. I think this is so important for our diverse population. How we are communicating and engaging with our families is critical, because the home support is an integral part of a student’s education. Helping families receive communication at home, whether it be sending newsletters home in multiple languages, voice calls, and using social media, is important, but is it enough? Are we sending the communication in a timely fashion for working families to change scheduling if needed? How can we open the communication so that families can communicate back to the schools and have their concerns heard? What happens to families that have a different language at home that isn’t Spanish or Portuguese? Are those families left to their own devices to figure out how to translate documentation?
It is suggested that better family engagement would help decrease the student dropout and absenteeism rate. The report suggested that Framingham’s rate for both are higher than the state average. We need to hear from our students as to why they are not completing high school and offer support, but are our doors open to feedback from our students? I want to understand what our communication practices are currently and help make suggestions on making it better so all families are getting the proper communication they need for our learners to have a successful, well rounded educational experience.
9) 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 or why not?
I would love to have neighborhood schools. It would decrease the large current need for busing, as well as long bus rides for students. Engaging parents it may be easier as schools would possibly be in walking distance. It may help change many things.
Currently, however, it isn’t possible. Many of our students reside south of Route 9. We do not have enough schools south of Route 9 For all the neighborhood children. We need an additional south Framingham elementary school. Of the nine elementary schools Framingham currently has, there are only three south of Route 9.
10) There has been discussion, but no decision or policy finalized, to have all of the PTOs pool their funds and for all the booster programs to pool their funds for athletics? Do you agree with this concept? Why or why not
At this time, I do not support PTO pooling or booster program pooling. We need to better understand how and why the funds are used for both PTO and Booster programs, and what the challenges are at each school and for each sport that results in such a difference in the ability to raise money. Dr. Tremblay’s policy instituted a couple of years ago that PTOs cannot spend money on anything that affects curriculum is progress in trying to eliminate some of the inequity, but now we need serious brainstorming for what is left.
What are the best practices PTOs and Booster Clubs can share with each other? Are there events they can collaborate on? Are there ways to increase family engagement which would help with inequities? I think more ideas need to be explored before we pool money and maybe discourage participation from volunteers that are already scarce and affect the motivation of student involvement.