Q&A With District 9 School Committee Candidate Will Labarge

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Will LaBarge

Occupation:  Retired.

Do You have child(ren) in the Framingham Public Schools: No

Why did you decide to run for re-election School Committee: First or all, I do not want to leave District 9 unrepresented. Others have expressed interest in having me to continue on the School Committee. Our work with COVID-19 and getting our schools full, in-person, mask optional, and doing it safely need to continue to a successful conclusion. We also have issues of equity in our public education, and responding to the concerns expressed by our community, especially having our school on Leland Street renamed to Harmony Grove Elementary School.

Website or Facebook page link: none

20 questions: one word answers

The best thing about the Framingham Public School District is  Inclusive

What letter grade would you give Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay? A

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

What was the last Framingham Public School event you attended: Fuller Middle School Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting Ceremony_.

What was the last Framingham High athletic event you attended: None due to COVID

Should there be more recess time? (yes or no)

Editor’s Note: If an answer is left blank, the candidate did not answer it

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

Should police officers be at Framingham High? (yes or no) If we have an emergency

Should the school year start after Labor Day every year? (yes or no) it depend

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

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

Framingham teachers are dedicated

I would never cut money from this school department arts and humanities in the budget.

School cafeteria food is awesome, okay, needs improvement (pick one) okay

Should Framingham High students complete 25 hours of community service before graduation? (yes or no) YES

I would bring continued civility 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 Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity subcommittee.

If I was asked to read to elementary students, I would want to read The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles.

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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? 

The School Committee’s responsibility are with the school policies, school budget, and hiring/firing the Superintendent. We perform these responsibilities for the betterment of educating all of God’s children, including those children who don’t believe in God.

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. Tell readers 1-2 ways you would work to fix the problem. 

I like to see that bus company is able to maintain a staff of driver and at the same time, try to work out routes where students are not in the bus for not more than a half hour, and report to parents the bad behavior of their children on the bus and expect parents to let their children that they are expected to behave while on the bus.

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. 

We advocate for the kids in getting adequate help, guidance, etc. in seeing what the issues are and come up with a plan to address and correct it.

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 of all, we get our schools safe enough where we no longer have to require the masks to be worn in our schools. I hate wearing that mask. With that said, I expect teachers, students, etc. also hate wearing that mask. We give the administration support when they bring extra professional staff, and we see that kids from poor families continue to have access to food. We also have to help provide after school programs so kids have wholesome activities and supervision, essentially a safe place to be at.

5) How should the 9-member School Committee spend the ARPA funds over the next two years? Be specific. 

We continue to spend ARPA funds for further improvements on the internet infrastructure, COVID-mitigating effort such as improve the air quality of the interior of the schools.

6) One of the responsibilities of a School Committee member is to evaluate the Superintendent of Schools. What three things will you hold him accountable for over the next two years?  

Given that I attend executive session, I get to evaluate the superintendent, teachers, etc. based on what I am privileged to hear. I want all party to bargain in good faith.

Given the pressure from different political groups who wish to compromise the quality of the education for ‘political’ purpose, I expect that our superintendent to resist all effort to dumb down the education, and provide additional reasons on why we must not compromise the quality of the education ranging from science to history of various groups of Americans and immigrants.

Generally, I expect that our superintendent will continue with his professionalism in dealing with all the different issues that comes up in the course of running our schools.

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? 

Once the COVID pandemic is over, I want a policy to allow students and staff to continue to wear the mask, especially during the cold/flu season. Essentially a mask-optional policy.

In the meantime, I want all adults who come into our schools to eventually be vaccinated.

Once vaccines are fully approved for students, I want all students to be vaccinated from COVID the same way they’re vaccinated for mumps, measles, etc. In the meantime, parents have the opportunity to get their kids vaccinated, but I would not require it to be done till it gets full FDA approval.

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? 

We must see that there is parity between the boys’ athletic facilities and girls’ athletic facilities. There has been in the past where the boys get great facilities and the girls get essentially a closet for their facilities.

9) Framingham Public Schools has seen an increase in turnover with central office and principals. Why do you think that is the case? What can be done by the School Committee to increase the longevity of leadership in central office and at the school level? 

With the extra State aid and Federal aid that Is afforded to poorer communities, use some of that aid to make up the difference in the pay for the professionals so the pay is about the same between communities, etc. Currently, the turnover is because the professionals find a similar position for more pay.

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? 

I am not sure on the answer on this question. In all fairness, I like to be more in the ‘weed’ to see before I render a suggestion on resolving this issue.

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176