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Thread: WaylandeNews Commentary on School Committee Race

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    Default WaylandeNews Commentary on School Committee Race

    In the School Committee race, four candidates are running for two open seats. Barb Fletcher and Lou Jurist are the incumbents, completing their first three-year terms. Write-in candidate Jeff Baron and Steve Glovsky, are the challengers, neither of whom have held elective office in Wayland.

    We sent each of the School Committee candidates a Q&A containing a dozen questions, in order to allow them to speak directly to the public on a broad range of issues that seem to be on the public’s collective mind plus an open response question. We did this in recognition of the time and logistical limitations of Moderator Gossels’ call-in show, and the League of Women Voters’ Candidates Night, in vetting candidates’ views comprehensively. We hope that the public finds the Q&A helpful in getting to know the candidates, and we welcome your feedback.

    Background

    The School Committee has taken some criticism over the last few months for voting to reconfigure the elementary schools by converting Loker to an all-Kindergarten facility, and dividing the Town’s grades 1-5 population between Happy Hollow and Claypit. The School Committee voted in favor of reconfiguration, when it realized that the Finance Committee guideline was for level funding rather than level services. The School Committee concluded that reconfiguration could be accomplished with no increase in class size across the district and with greater savings than previously estimated. There were also growing concerns over the size of the budget shortfall and the question of whether the voters would tolerate an override of the size of the initial shortfall, a total of $2.6 million for both the Town and the schools.

    The committee had earlier voted 3 (Dieffenbach, Fletcher, Jurist)-0 (Pineault abstaining) -1 (Cohen) to turn Loker into an all-Kindergarten facility, subject to later approval of reconfiguration. Some Loker parents asked that the decision to choose Loker as the all-Kindergarten facility be reconsidered and submitted additional data in support of Loker as the 1-5 facility over Happy Hollow. After additional fact-finding, public comment and introspection, the School Committee voted 3-2 to not rescind its earlier vote. Loker residents Dieffenbach and Pineault, along with Fletcher, voted to not rescind the prior decision and Claypit residents Jurist and Cohen voted in favor of rescinding it.

    The School Committee’s refusal to rescind its prior decision caused some Loker residents to question the thoroughness of process the Committee followed. At that point Baron, a Loker parent, commenced a write-in campaign, stating his belief that the School Committee’s decision process lacks discipline and fact-based analysis. A group of residents, mostly but not entirely from the Loker district, have rallied behind his candidacy, and he has received a numerous endorsements on our endorsement page.

    As for the School Committee’s decision, both Fletcher and Jurist expressed regret at Candidates Night over the hardship this situation has placed on Loker families. Both seem to feel that the Town is faced with a difficult financial situation that was best managed by accelerating reconfiguration by one year rather than imposing other cuts that would have affected even more of the school population and once gone would have been very difficult to restore. We have received consistent feedback from the School Committee that they stand by the substance of their decision, and there have been numerous posts on our Discussion Board on the reconfiguration decision that we invite the public to read.

    For those who missed it, Candidates Night is being rebroadcast on WayCam Channel 9 on Sunday and Monday. This year’s Candidates Night is especially informative, in that it includes School Committee candidate Steve Glovsky’s inappropriate dramatic interpretation given in lieu of his candidate’s statement. The stunned look on the moderator’s face, alone, makes it worth watching. By morning, Selectmen Candidate Alan Reiss had withdrawn his endorsement of Glovsky.

    The School Committee Candidates (in Alphabetical Order)

    [Editor’s Note: it has come to our attention that a blogger identifying herself on the Crier’s website as “Kim” on Sunday April 6 stated that WaylandeNews earlier endorsed Fletcher and Jurist but withdrew the endorsement after viewing tapes of certain public meetings involving the Happy Hollow windows. The blogger's assertion is false, and we therefore feel compelled to set the record straight. We have three editors, one of whom earlier posted personal endorsements for Fletcher and Jurist, and he later withdrew them out of respect for what the Loker community is going through. In this instance it is our belief that it is far more important to work toward healing wounds than expressing political views, and that issuing School Committee endorsements would further polarize matters regardless of who WaylandeNews endorses. Our priority is and always has been to help bring Wayland together. WaylandeNews has not issued endorsements on the School Committee race this year, for that reason.]

    Jeff Baron is the write-in candidate around whom people who disagree with the process of choosing Loker as the all-Kindergarten facility have rallied. He believes that he can bring greater discipline and new ideas to the School Committee’s decision-making, and has positioned himself as a candidate of change for those who are dissatisfied with the School Committee. He currently serves as chair of the appointed Dog Control Appeals Board, and served on the Cable Committee that renegotiated the Comcast contract in 2000. He has worked in management consulting and is currently a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual. He has two elementary age children. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Colby and a Cornell MBA.

    Baron declined to participate in our Candidate Q&A, stating that he prefers one-on-one discussion over static answers, and noting that he would be participating in Candidates Night. Instead he provided a response that we posted at his request, which you can read by clicking here. We were very disappointed that Jeff did not participate, because his views are not well-known and he is running for election to a position on a board responsible for the education of the Town’s children, and for managing a $30 million budget. In addition to Candidates Night, Jeff also participated in Moderator Gossels’ call-in show. At Candidates Night, his demeanor was appropriate and respectful, and he stated his support for the override and the high school project.

    Barb Fletcher is the current School Committee chair, and is completing her first three-year term. Past public service in town includes Treasurer of the middle school PTO, President and Secretary of the Claypit PTO, membership on search committees for the Assistant Superintendent, Claypit principal, and elementary curriculum directors, and parent representative to the Claypit School Council. Her professional career includes past tenures at Morgan Stanley and Fidelity, and she currently works part time in finance for a nonprofit, tuition free middle school in Dorchester. She is married to former Finance Committee member Rod Fletcher and has four children, one in high school, one in middle school and two at Claypit. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Princeton and a Dartmouth MBA.

    Fletcher participated in the Candidate Q&A. You can see her responses by clicking here. She also participated in Moderator Gossels’ call-in show and Candidates Night.

    Steve Glovsky, on his candidate statement, does not report having held any volunteer positions in Wayland. He did have an unsuccessful run for Selectman against Michael Tichnor last year. His primary emphasis is on taxpayer concerns, in that he does not believe that an override should be considered to fund an operating budget, and does not believe the Town will support replacing the current high school facility. He has a tenth grader at Wayland HS. He earned a Bachelor’s from Harvard, and law degrees from BU and NYU.

    Glovsky answered the Candidate Q&A, and also participated in Moderator Gossels’ call-in show and on Candidates Night, as noted above.

    Lou Jurist is an incumbent completing his first three-year term. He has a daughter enrolled at the high school and a daughter at Claypit. He is an orthopedic surgeon practicing locally and holds a Bachelor’s from Brown and a medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

    Jurist expressed regret that he could not answer our Q&A within the required timeframe, citing current School Committee obligations on top of campaigning, long work hours and family commitments. Jurist has a long record of views publicly expressed as a member of the School Committee over the past three years, and he does not hesitate to speak his mind regardless of whether others on the Committee agree with his views. He participated in Moderator Gossels’ call-in show and Candidates Night.

    We urge voters to watch the rebroadcasts of Candidates Night and Moderator Goessel’s call-in show (click here for rebroadcast times) to get to know all four candidates, in addition to reviewing the Q&A and the candidates own statements.
    Last edited by Editorial Board; 04-06-2008 at 04:24 PM.

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