Gannon To Serve Schools Three More Years
Committee member hopes lack of competition means she is doing a good job.
She won, even though the town election is Tuesday. No one surfaced to challenge School Committee member Pam Gannon to a second three-year term.
But that doesn't mean she is taking the job for granted. Far from it, as Gannon is prepared to meet the challenges of the next term.
The top priority, she said, is the Concord-Carlisle High School project.
"We know that it's definitely the high school building," said Gannon. "We've been working on it for a few years, but now that the design team is in place, I think people are more interested."
She said the two towns that make up the region are working with the state School Building Authority which will reimburse the town for a substantial percentage of the project.
"It's very important that we have broad community support in both towns," said Gannon. The building committee for the high school is shifting into higher gear now that the Office of Michael Rosenfeld has been selected as the designer.
"We also want to make sure people know it's not going to be on the scale of a Newton," said Gannon, where the new high school in that city swelled to many millions and the residents there were shocked, calling it a Taj Mah-high school.
Gannon said there will be community forums to get feedback and keep the towns informed on the CCHS progress.
"Everyone I talk to is interested, and now things will really start to happen."
The other major issue is a perennial one: the budget. For the past five consecutive years, Concord has kept its school budget within the levy limit. Gannon credits Deputy Superintendent for Finance John Flaherty and Superintendent Diana Rigby with that.
"Education is expensive and a good education is very expensive," said Gannon. "We want to maintain a high-quality program with strong schools."
But, she said Rigby and Flaherty do "a lot of work, a lot of scrutiny" of the budget, working with the School Committee and administration.
Another feature that keeps the budget in check is that the School Committee is working more closely with the Finance Committee every year to bring the budget in within the levy limit. Gannon has been the liaison to the FinCom.
"It consumes so much of the budget, it's worth working with them," said Gannon. "Every year we are looking for ways to be more efficient, looking at new programs.:
She said the high school is adding more science and technology classes, for example.
Gannon said Flaherty goes over every line item to make sure "every item is being used or not being used" to the schools' benefit.
"Teachers salaries are the biggest portion of the budget," she said. "That's just the way it is."
Gannon got her start in town service as a board member of the Concord Children's Center, and joined more nonprofit boards in town. She said the CCC board is a good "feeder board" for town boards and committees.
The town election Tuesday, March 29. Gannon and Selectmen Jeff Wieand are unopposed. Three candidates are vying for a seat on the Housing Authority. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.