Rebuilding the schools, inequitity within the elementary and middle schools, busing, school choice and the tax rate were among the topics discussed by the two candidates seeking to become Framingham's newest School Committee member, at a forum hosted by the Framingham Town-Wide PTO Monday night.
Incumbent School Committee members Beverly Hugo and Andy Limeri, as well as School Committee candidates Heather Connolly and Don Taggart presented why they should be elected on April 3, at the forum at Framingham High.
Hugo and Limeri are running unopposed for two, three-year seats on the Framingham School Committee. Connolly and Taggart are seeking a one-year seat made available, when
Town Meeting member Audrey Hall, who also is chair of the Ways & Means Committee and a former president of the TWPTO, moderated.
Each candidate was allowed a two-minute opening statement, which Framingham Patch videotaped. (The videos are attached to this report.)
Hall asked about 10 questions of Connolly and Taggart, and half as many of Hugo and Limeri.
Taggart said he was in favor of increasing the tax levy by the maximum 2.5%, as recommended by the town's CFO. Connolly said she supported the 1.5% tax levy, endorsed by Selectmen, for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1.
Connolly said if money was available she would make sure there are literacy specialists in all the schools, each school had the counselors it needed and "increase our math and science programs."
Taggart said he would want to increase support services, like guidance and social workers, see more attention given to the SAGE program and restore high school electives.
Both candidates seemed to stumble at times during the forum. Connolly had a difficult time with a question about improving drop out rates and Taggart said if parents wanted to pay to send their child to the (Christa McAuliffe) Charter School they could. (Editor's Note: The charter school is free for Framingham families.)
As Framingham recently , Hall asked Connolly and Taggart what goals would they set for .
Connolly said in the first six months she would like to see Scott build relationships with the principals, staff, CFO, town administrators and to understand Framingham. Then, she wanted him to look at the different schools and fix the inequitities between them, followed by increasing students' literacy and math skills.
Taggart said his goals would be for Scott to take a "look at the budgetary operation of the town," look at curriculum k-12, and become an educational leader. Lastley, he said, to be "seen in the schools and in the community."
Hugo said she would like the new superintendent to analyze data, policies, programs and services, to look for ways to close the academic achievement gap and solve the equity issues. She also wanted Scott to get acquainted with the schools, staff, students and community, to communicate and collaborate and to have a well-thought out, detailed plan in place before implementation.
Limeri said he wanted Scott to be financial responsible and manage the budget; to improve communication and make sure the school district serves the entire range of its students.
The forum also featured questions to the three candidates running for the two Planning Board seats and an early look at the state representatives running in the November election. Framingham Patch will have articles/videos on those races shortly.