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Thread: WaylandeNews Endorsements for School Committee

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006

    Default WaylandeNews Endorsements for School Committee

    This year we feel fortunate to have at least three viable candidates to choose from (of the total of five who are running) in filling the two vacancies on School Committee.

    The strongest candidate is incumbent Jeff Dieffenbach. His experience as a nine year School Committee member, along with his previous five years on Finance Committee, distinguish him as one who would preserve consistency and institutional memory for a board grappling with very difficult budgetary, logistical, and political challenges, facing a superintendent search, and possibly a high school construction project. Dieffenbach certainly has detractors, most notably those who focus on the tax burden and some parents unhappy with the last year’s elementary school reconfiguration. Nevertheless, his legendary work ethic, deep well of knowledge not just about Wayland and its schools but education in general through his professional work, and his willingness to openly dialogue with even the most virulent critics of the School Committee, render him not only preferable but necessary to the ongoing success of the Wayland schools.

    In addition to Dieffenbach, there are two viable newcomers, each with something different to offer. Malcolm Astley is our preferred choice but Paul Grasso also would be a credible addition to the Committee.

    Malcolm Astley is impressive, a 39 year resident of Wayland degreed from Wesleyan, Harvard, and BU (D. Ed.), who also spent a year at Children’s Hospital training in clinical psychology. He has many years of experience as a professional educator, counselor and educational administrator, having worked in the public schools in Concord, Brookline, Bolton and Lexington, and spent a year as a Fulbright Exchange teacher in England. In our opinion, Astley would be a fine addition to the School Committee because his many years of professional educational experience is something the School Committee currently lacks, and would bring the Committee a stronger understanding of how its policy decisions – for example, the elementary school reconfiguration – can impact the quality of education on the ground. He also has a child who has attended the Wayland public schools and is now a sophomore at Wayland High School, so along with his professional work he brings the perspective of a parent who has the personal experience of the elementary, middle school and high school years. Finally, he already has a record of public and community service in Wayland, having served as a library trustee for 13 years, as President of the First Parish church, as a state aid advocate for Wayland with the Suburban Coalition, and as a Convener of the Pine Brook Neighborhood Association. You can learn more about Astley, including his views on financial matters, by reading his candidate statement and his answers to our Q&A.

    If Astley were not running, then Paul Grasso would be our second choice. Grasso is a 14 year resident of Wayland with an accounting degree from the University of Bridgeport and an MBA from the University of Colorado. He is running because he believes that he can bring more effective and consistent fiscal planning and budgeting, and openly apply those activities to support identified priorities and goals. While the School Committee already has members with financial expertise, a second viewpoint could be useful, and we do believe that Grasso supports the maintenance of high academic standards. Our primary concern with Grasso is that his perspective appears to be relatively limited. He has two young children who have not yet entered first grade and he has never experienced the Wayland schools firsthand, and he has not noted any professional educational experience or any record of public service. Nevertheless, we believe that if he is elected then he, like Astley, would bring an additional perspective to the School Committee in a respectful and constructive way. You can read Grasso’s candidate statement to learn more about him. He did not participate in our Candidate Q&A, but he did address several questions in a letter to the Crier that you can view by clicking here.

    The other two School Committee candidates, not discussed above, are Jeff Baron and Steve Glovsky.

    WaylandeNews Editorial Board
    Ian Hecker
    Lawrence Krakauer
    Stephen Perlman
    Last edited by Editorial Board; 04-06-2009 at 09:05 AM. Reason: improve formatting


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