How else can you choose who best represents you? Here are some issues important to me and, based on feedback I’ve already received, important to a lot of you. I look forward to learning more and hearing your opinions because that’s what is most important.
The school department has the largest budget in Wellesley (~$80 million this year). This means it is critical to have School Committee members who are experienced in managing and balancing large budgets. We need to be respectful of our taxpayers and ensure that we don’t make short term decisions that we can’t financially support in the future. Making sure dollars touch the students directly should always be our first priority. You have my commitment that I’ll treat every dollar in the school budget with respect and care.
This is easy. Taxpayers won’t support initiatives they don’t want or don’t understand. It’s so important we are open and honest with everything we do. We need to constantly be listening to and communicating with our constituents. We should explore more personal channels and meet residents where they are. I would support more proactive communication on social media, diverse news outlets and holding informal in person discussions where all sorts of residents gather – the Tolles Parsons Center is a wonderful environment, as well as our libraries and schools. Heck, I’ll be glad to chat at the dump! There is simply no replacement for real conversation.
Our students need the right skills and foundation for the future. This means we need to invest in technology and educational programming around math, data science, analytics and computer science. Technology can also present risks for our kids and we need to ensure we are adapting quickly to the most recent research and advances in this area. Social media and the pressures of a constantly connected world are real challenges, particularly for our middle and high schoolers. We are also learning more about the risks of screens for our youngest kids and so I would like to see us proceed with an abundance of caution here. We need to stay open, educated and on top of this area.
We absolutely need to rebuild or renovate these schools. The School Building Committee & School Committee are currently deciding which elementary school should be closed and which schools should be rebuilt. The plan that moves forward must be well supported or we risk a failed debt exclusion in 2021 and see no schools built. The majority of residents move here for the schools and I take closing a school very seriously. Walkability, the environment, traffic, safety and decreased property values are just some of the concerns residents have shared with me. I think we owe it to our taxpayers to thoroughly investigate every avenue and let them have a say. Which leads me to…
I want to avoid a failed debt exclusion on HHU and this question lets us know where we stand. Wellesley voters are smart, engaged and capable of weighing the pros and cons of this question. If the taxpayers want 7 schools, don’t we owe it to them to create the best 7 school plan possible? Similarly, if they’re behind closure, we need to make sure we have a 6-school plan that the town supports. Specifically, one area of focus I’m committed to is that we need to collaborate with the neighborhood that is not selected to co-create a plan for what will be done with that property. The School Committee currently has a position statement which indicates that the land will be saved until enrollment warrants another school to be built – but that might be some time. We owe it to our neighbors to have an interim plan for the land and building that can be celebrated. And more importantly, we owe it to them to be collaborative, open and firmly committed to what we will and will not do with the land. I believe it’s an important part of the School Committee’s job to listen to constituents, since these are the individuals funding our projects.
As a family who’s very focused on teaching our children to respect the environment, I was thrilled to see the middle school composting project take off, in addition to the many other initiatives Wellesley Green Schools has put into place. I strongly support Wellesley Green Schools and Sustainable Wellesley for all of their accomplishments. I would be honored to help future initiatives move forward.
To honor all the hard work residents put into our Unified Plan, we need to do the best we can to follow the direction it offers. The Unified Plan should guide the decisions all boards and departments make, including the school department.