School Committee Candidates Talk Communication, Teachers, CCHS (Video)
All four of Concord’s candidates for School Committee appeared at a League of Women Voters forum held Sunday, March 3, and addressed questions on a range of issues, including their feelings about the CCHS project and the current administration.
Concord’s four School Committee candidates were cordial Sunday afternoon at a League of Women Voters forum held at the Willard School, and while their differences may be many, issues of agreement came across loud and clear.
For instance, all four candidates agreed mistakes have been made over the past year around the Concord Public and Concord-Carlisle Regional school districts, and cited improving communication as a key to moving forward as a community.
Addressing feelings of dissatisfaction among teachers—revealed through the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning survey data released last year—ranked as a top priority for all four candidates, and each of them said they would take seriously the School Committee’s responsibility to supervise the superintendent of schools. Additionally, all said they supported the Concord-Carlisle High School building project moving forward, although those answers began to reveal key differences among the candidates.
Click on the videos posted above to hear the candidates’ responses when asked about supporting the Concord-Carlisle High School building project.
The candidates for School Committee are Lisa Bergen, Johanna Boynton, Cyntia Rainey and Kathleen Snook. They are competing for two seats opening up on the board.
Bergen burst on the scene around school transportation issues and, over the past year, has chaired the Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee and served on the School Committee's Transportation Advisory Committe. Boynton has served as president for the board of the Children’s Meetinghouse of the Alcott School PTG. Snook, a retired Army colonel, taught math for 10 years at West Point and has served on committees for the Mathematical Association of America. Rainey, according to her campaign literature, has attended more than 50 meetings of the Board of Selectmen and School, Building, Finance and transportation advisory committees.
One of the questions posed to the candidates was whether they were satisfied with the school administration, which has to some extent come under fire over the past year as issues of teacher morale and the CCHS building project have cropped up.
Snook, who answered the question first, said she felt mistakes have been made and should be acknowledged. She said the superintendent has room for improvement in several areas around communication and listening, including giving voice to teachers and principals.
The question is bigger than any one person, Bergen said, and must ask whether the community is satisfied with the administration. She acknowledged “hot spots” with the Thoreau School’s principal and with Superintendent Diana Rigby, but said no one else is walking in their shoes and it’s important to consider the input they are receiving. Instead of “As a School Committee member, I would like to work in that direction,” Bergen said.
Boynton took the opportunity to say she was not, as some have suggested, friends and vacation partners with Superintendent of Schools Diana Rigby. However, Boynton did say the working relationship she does have with Rigby and others could be advantageous in terms of improving civility and building a foundation to move forward from this difficult time.
Finally Rainey, like Bergen, said it’s not relevant what she thinks of the current administration, since the School Committee’s primary role is using information that comes to them from the community. “Without that, I don’t think they can make that judgment,” she said.
The candidates also answered questions about managing resources, technology in the classroom, per pupil spending and whether what other districts are doing is relevant to Concord’s discussions about school transportation.
Board of Selectmen candidates Carmen Reiss and Alice Kaufman also participated in the LWV forum, while Town Moderator Eric Van Loon, who is running for re-election, and Housing Authority candidate Dennon Rodrigue were unable to participate due to prior out-of-town commitments. Check back on Patch tomorrow morning to hear what the selectmen candidates had to say.
The forum was recorded for later airing on CCTV Channel 8 and for on-demand viewing at www.concordtv.org.