Q&A With District 8 School Committee Candidate Jessica Barnhill

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Editor’s Note: candidates were asked to submit a photo or SOURCE would choose one. Barnhill submitted a photo of her and her son.


Jessica Barnhill

Occupation: High School Wellness Teacher

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

Why did you decide to run for re-election 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 16 years as a public-school teacher.  I offer my experience and knowledge to the Framingham community. I plan to continue advocating for our children and our schools.

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

20 .The best thing about the Framingham Public School District is Students and Staff

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? C+

What was the last Framingham Public School event you attended: Fuller’s Grand Opening Ceremony

What was the last Framingham High athletic event you attended: Framingham vs Natick Unified Basketball.

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

Do you support free preschool for all 4-year-olds? (yes or no). Yes. Universal high-quality preschool would be a tremendous boost for the city of Framingham. 

Should police officers be at Framingham High? (yes or no) Unfortunately, active shooter drills are part of the job of certain school teachers. School shootings frequently occur. In the case of an emergency event, an officer on-site is an asset.  

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): Not at this time.

Framingham teachers are resilient and caring.

I would never cut money from Health and Wellness Department in the budget.

School cafeteria food is awesome, okay, needs improvement (pick one). I haven’t tried it 🙁

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

I would bring strong collaboration skills, creative problem-solving abilities,1 and voice from District 8 to the School Committee.

Should teachers and staff be mandated to have the COVID vaccine? (yes or no) All those who are able should get the vaccine. 

Should students be mandated to have the COVID vaccine like they are mandated for measles, mumps, etc vaccines? (yes or no) See above.

When elected, I want to serve on the Policy Subcommittee.

If I was asked to read to elementary students, I would want to read Waiting Is Not Easy!  By Mo Willems

1) Specific criteria are used to measure a Superintendent. Criteria are used to evaluate a teacher. How should you as a School Committee member be evaluated? In 2019 you told SOURCE readers transparency was an important way to evaluate the School Committee. How do you feel you have accomplished that in the last two years?

Voters should continue to hold me 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. A school committee member 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 I see it as 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.  I feel I have accomplished this by seeking out multiple sources of evidence, assimilating data, and considering 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.  I will continue to use the above and comply with all open meeting law guidelines. 

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.

 Ensuring that students arrive safely and on-time to school is crucial. At the beginning of my first term, Durham continued to disappoint. I voted to explore other options for bidding and no longer contract with Durham.  We, as a  committee, took the opportunity to explore other viable options.  I would support additional funds being allocated to remedy this situation. Getting students to school, on-time and safely is a critical piece for any school district. This continues to be an area of frustration. I would support a pay increase and the creation/addition of bus monitor positions. 

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.

The School committee’s purview is budget, policy, and superintendent evaluation. 

We need to eliminate the disparities in District 8. We need universal high-quality preschool for all our children. Federal earmarks exist. I will continue to advocate for this money. I will continue to advocate and contact local and state elected officials to apply for this money and ask that it be allocated to Framingham.  

I will continue to advocate for a new elementary school on the south side. The simple facts are 3/9 schools are located south of Route 9 and ⅔ of our students live south of Route 9. I have made several motions to further this process. The city needs to purchase the property at Bethany now. 

I will continue to examine and evaluate existing policy and curriculum so that we are focused on cultivating an inclusive school community, which celebrates diversity and allows equitable opportunities and resources. 

Last, from a health and wellness perspective, a policy change regarding policy ADF pertaining to physical activity and recess could result in opportunities for student growth. 

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.

There are a number of social and emotional supports that are needed for our students especially as we continue to navigate through a pandemic and heal from this pandemic. Financial allocations should reflect support for these services and demands. In addition, money should be allocated for positions that are direct services to our students. 

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

See above response.

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?  

I will continue to evaluate the superintendent on the following :

Performance Goals

Instructional Leadership

Management and Operations

Family and Community Engagement

Professional Culture

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?

As a member of the Policy Subcommittee, I am proud to be a part of the ongoing and in-depth policy review. Our goal is to have gold standard policies here in Framingham. With a policy expert from MASC, the committee and I meet regularly and work to ensure policies are up-to-date and equitable. This term I look forward to further examining wellness policies,  fundraising policies, and more. 

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 need to address the human and financial cost of busing in our district. In District 8 there are many disparities that need to be eliminated. We need universal high-quality preschool for all our four-year-olds. We need a school on the south side. 

2/3 students live south of route nine. 3/9 elementary schools are on the south side. District 8 doesn’t have a neighborhood school. These kids spend more time on a bus, sometimes hours, than any of their northside peers. District 8 is a community with significant cultural and linguistic diversity. We need policies and systems in place that foster and support equity, inclusion,  and diversity. 

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 the central office and at the school level?

It’s a difficult time right now being in education. A lot of people are at their max. The demands of the job have changed drastically and the pandemic presented significant challenges to these individuals. 

In the world of education,  there have been significant amounts of people leaving the profession. With this, positions have opened up. If you are driven to be promoted, looking to relocate closer to home, or looking for a different position there are plenty of openings.  

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? 

Yes. This was brought up in the Policy Subcommittee. There needs to be a policy in place so there is equitable fund distribution. I fully support this policy change.


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

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