Unwavering Commitment to Public Education
My commitment to supporting public education in Framingham is grounded in five decades of action: as a PTO parent and officer, as a Town Meeting Member, Finance Committee Member, Selectman, City Councilor, and most recently, as the first Chairman of the Fuller Middle School Building Committee, I have a proven record of supporting our schools. Since I moved to Framingham in 1971, with the hope of raising a family in a vibrant, diverse and welcoming community with excellent public schools, I have made supporting our school community a key focus of all of my civic engagement. I’ve done this not just for the benefit of my own children (all Framingham public school graduates) or my grandchildren (three currently attending Framingham Public Schools) but for the benefit of all our City’s schoolchildren – who deserve the best public education we can provide, regardless of what neighborhood they grow up in.
As Framingham’s next Mayor, I will continue my tireless advocacy for public education in Framingham with a focus on accomplishing real results. By investing in students, educators, and infrastructure with an equity lens, a focus on green development, and interdepartmental collaboration with strong efficiencies, we will make our schools, and in turn our community, a better place for all.
Specifically, I will:
- Work with the School Committee and Superintendent on the annual operating and capital budget process to ensure transparency, collaboration and buy-in from all relevant stakeholders in order to equitably fund our school system. In the FPS FY22 budget, $4.4 million in non-recurring funds were deployed to prevent cuts to vital educational services. That expanded the non-recurring reserve fund drawdown of $3 million in FY21 and $0.5 million in FY20. This growing dependence on non-recurring local reserve funds or federal relief cannot continue, and must be corrected in the FY23 FPS budget. This is a critical priority for the continued financial health of the school district.
- Reverse the recent history of inattention to critical infrastructure needs, particularly where school roof projects were repeatedly deferred, creating public safety and rising construction costs. I will require all new eligible roof projects to be constructed with solar panels and/or other energy efficiency measures. Read more about my plans for the environment: http://ow.ly/JJCh50F6LjB
- Purchase a property south of Route 9 for a long discussed PreK-5 Early Education Center to finally help address long bus rides for our youngest residents, equity, and help improve the challenges of school choice. As a member and first Chairman of the Fuller Middle School Building Committee, I know what it takes to bring together the dozens of aspects and partnerships necessary to secure funding and a plan for a new school. As Mayor, I will bring my experience to support this next new school project in our City immediately.
- Require that the City’s Community and Economic Development Division coordinate with the school department when reviewing housing projects to ensure that there is thoughtful planning in relation to enrollment, class sizes, staffing, bus routes, school choice, traffic, and that financial support from developers are negotiated.
- In collaboration with the City Council, School Committee, and Superintendent, I will consider a merger of the School Department’s Buildings and Grounds Department with the City Facilities, Capital Projects, and Sustainability Departments to increase efficiencies and create recurring cost savings year after year.
In addition, I will:
- Meet regularly with the members of our elected state legislative delegation to help them advocate at the state level for equitable school funding. I believe a Mayor’s role is to facilitate a coordinated approach in order to bring in big wins for our City from our legislators. My experience and record makes me the ideal candidate to collaborate with Assistant Speaker of the House Katherine Clark, Senate President Karen Spilka, and Representatives Jack Patrick Lewis, Maria Robinson, and Carmine Gentile. I feel that the next Mayor’s term is the ideal time to take advantage of their unique seniority and potential for a variety of education related projects to help our school district make continuous improvement.
- Work closely with our local business community – small, private, independent and family-owned businesses, as well large public corporations that call Framingham their home – so they can partner with our schools, develop mutually-beneficial relationships and programs, and give back meaningfully to the education community where their employees live and work.
- Reinforce the fact that the Mayor is responsible for procurement, contracts, and vendor management in our city – including the School Department. Holding vendors to meet the terms of city contracts has been a challenge under the current administration. In relation to busing, the vendor and school district must do everything possible to get kids to school safely and on time. The contract requires this. If the vendor cannot meet the terms of the contract, there needs to be serious, daily, collaborative discussions. This is the Mayor’s contract. The School Committee offers a public venue to work out issues with the vendor transparently – yet the contract is the responsibility of the Mayor. If I was Mayor now, I would have used my authority and directed the City Solicitor and school department to enact Article 6 or Article 11 of the contract – allowing the vendor or city to hire subcontractors to fill the gap and charge any new costs to the vendor. I would be in direct contact with the vendor. They need to hear from the leader of this City on the importance of problem solving because busing should be automatic and not the challenge we have seen.
- Insist that our City’s Health Department and Board of Health works cooperatively with our School Department and School Committee to ensure clear communication and collaboration about public health policy decisions as related to COVID-19, General Chemical cleanup next to Harmony Grove Elementary, and other matters. One path to aid in COVID-19 mitigation measures in our schools in our City is to rightly and appropriately invest in infrastructure such as air filtration, ventilation, air purification, and air conditioning technologies. The cost to upgrade old buildings with these technologies has the potential to be expensive, yet it is possible. I believe this is a matter of public health, equity between school buildings, and generational responsibility to support our students and staff with proper facilities to work and learn.
- Show up. I will be an active, present Mayor who will attend School Committee meetings, PTO meetings, and school-related cultural, athletic, and artistic events as I have for the last fifty years in Framingham. I will be the biggest fan, cheerleader and advocate for our schoolchildren, their coaches, teachers and administrators and school staff – because that’s what a Mayor should be.