Contested District Council Candidate Forum Notes – 10/14

Candy Mero-Carlson declined because of another commitment; Cipro and Stratman were invited but are not here

So – Hampton-Dance, Rose, and Haxhiaj are in attendance

We are welcomed by Maritza Cruz; forum sponsored by YWCA, NAACP, MAWOCC, LEON, LWV, others.

Link to video

Moderators are Attorney Rubby Wuabu and Sophie Marani

Candidate introductions:

Councilor Rose: originally ran to make the city a better place for his daughters to raise their children.  However, in running for third term, bring people to get together.  Councilor‘s job is not to be an expert but to bring people together.  Social justice, taking care of vulnerable populations.  District race is very contested and important.  Our democratic values are on the line and cannot emphasize enough how important it is to maintain.

Haxhiaj: her story is the story of many other families who fled their home countries not from choice but because of political violence.  24 years later, making her second bid for CC.  In past few months, have knocked on thousands of doors.  Has shared with them about life experience and experience as community activist, youth worker, shaped – has advocated for equity as board member of YWCA.  We all deserve to have our voices included in planning.  Future greener, healthier for everyone.  Affordable housing for all people.  Elect people who are forward thinking (oh my word this was great – just watch the video)

Hampton-Dance: decided to run because she represents the everyday person.  Not a politician, not polished.  Knows what needs to get done.  Wants to be microphone, amplify people‘s voices and concerns.  No matter how many time people call and write letters.  She feels all the people at the table are running on equity.  She believes she can accomplish some things because she is unafraid and refuses to be quiet.  [She was quite impressive – I was not sure what to expect as a non-D2-voter!]

Q1: how to improve access for woman- and POC (not a quote)-owned businesses in city contracts?

Etel: worked with CLC on this.  We should be taking the lead in how we think about equity.  Pandemic has raised questions.  Would like an equity audit of purchasing, contracts.  It doesn‘t end at putting a line on the city website.  Have right people do the outreach.  Listen to people about what is missing from the contract.  We cannot talk about equity without listening to the people who are impacted by inequity.  Wants to make sure process is transparent.

Sean: Apologizes for opponent not being here.  He is a small business owner.  Often times to contract with people to offer resources.  Also pres of a nonprofit.  What happens is that you are going up against people who have huge teams, dedicated grantwriters.  Look at bidding process closely, even playing field.  Aggressive TIF policies – can use as an opportunity to look at the bid process.

Johanna:  making people aware that there are monies available.  How to get word out: community colleges, resource centers, workshops on how to start a business.  It‘s one thing to talk about bidding, but as a normal person – how do I start a business or a nonprofit?  Where is the front door?

Q2 from NAACP: ARPA funds gives us unique opportunity.  How to determine priority areas?

Etel: the starting point for how we ensure all communities are taken care of.  ARPA is to uplift those who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.  What has been done in community listening sessions is not good.  Affordable Housing Coalition – 20% of ARPA should be dedicated.  Prescription should come from the community.  CC should listen more to constituents.  Not to be seen as a “good listener” but because it‘s the right thing to do.  Need to spend money in housing, take care of food insecurity, starts and ends with an equity lens.

Johanna: (whispers: “I have to agree with Etel”)  Fight is still on for 20%…we need buildings built for affordable housing, for those stuck in family shelters.  If single person and homeless, you might not get a bed.  Lofts for $2500 a month – I can‘t afford that – so where do I live?  Rent increases – those working 40 hours a week cannot afford.  No more protection from evictions.  How to pay back rent?  More mental health and drug addiction treatment.  We can build a ballpark – [then] we can build apartments.

Q3 from LWV: District councilors often hear specific infrastructure complaints.  What specific experience do you have to efficiently respond?

Johanna: have assisted people in a variety of issues and is not even on the city council yet.  All it took for her to listen.  Then put action behind it.  Provide transparency.  We can say “I‘m going to take care of it” all day long but nothing gets down.  I plan on being accessible 24/7.  It‘s going to be overwhelming, but I work best under pressure. 

Etel: Has been a long-time organizer and has learned about the issues in the city.  Has worked with mothers to have utilities fix gas leaks.  She will work with people who disagree with her.  What she has heard when knocking on doors – different way of thinking about safety, public health, and intersecting issues (housing is safety, housing is health).  Proven record of doing this already.

We have time for questions from the audience.

BLOG FAVORITE Fred Taylor: civilian review board.  We‘ve heard about what the state will do.  Do you support civilian review?  Why/why not?

Johanna: YES.  Has been very vocal about this.  Needs subpoena power.  Police cannot police themselves. Done on a biased level, rinse and repeat process.  No reprimand for bad behavior or misconduct.  Weed out bad apples.  WPD should be respected, trusted – not feared.  If you fear the police, you will not call the police.

Etel: YES.  In the city, we have gone a long time without listening to voices of black and brown people.  Executive order needed.  Police should not be excluded from accountability.  Police officer‘s job description should not be called because of social issues like homelessness.  Definitely civilian review board with subpoena power – but also in best interests of communities most impacted by police brutality. 

Follow up: who should serve?

Johanna: orgs at the forefront (names a bunch). 

Etel: has heard criticism that we can‘t have volunteers with expertise.  Many boards and commissions are already staffed by volunteers.  Need to appoint people who have lived experience.  Accountability to those most impacted.

Rose (who had to step out): would like to see process started done first – then work from there.  Would like to see that through in advance of starting something new.  Each district has own identity – want to see each part of city represented.  Mental health, trauma backgrounds helpful as well.

Q from Shelly Rodman of LWV: read about CC discussion of composition of SC from the previous CC meeting.  Three options were presented.  What do you think?  One month comment period for residents to say something – seems like tight timeframe.

Johanna: OK with three options – each seems reasonable. 4 week time period – but this has been ongoing discussion.  Conversations should have been done at this point.  Because this has not been done fall on the Council.  Done deal – needs to move forward.

Sean: in his two terms, that was probably the saddest CC meeting.  It should have been an 11-0 vote.  When he talks about values on the line, this is exactly what I mean.  Councilors on the record talking about charter review, stats about black/brown people not being represented.  We‘ve been challenged for 400 years in this country.  This levels the playing field.  He is disappointed with some of the commentary.  He likes all options – just wants to get it done.  He is very pragmatic. 

Etel: shocking that it was not a unanimous vote.  Plaintiffs have entered into consent decree – interested in their perspective.  Why is it that every time we try to bring equity forward, why is it that certain members of the Council continue to block progress?  Hurting communities.

Q from me about an issue facing each candidate‘s specific district they‘d like to tackle.

Johanna: certain areas that are very well kept, a lot of the district is not – from trash on the streets to panhandlers on every corner, to rundown properties.  No time, money, attention invested in those neighborhoods.  Neighborhood should reflect people who live as a whole.  Clean atmosphere – take more pride.  Need to hire more DPW, Parks employees to create that atmosphere.  Send out mailers for neighborhood cleanup.  We say we take pride in the city, but there are certain areas of D2 where that doesn‘t show.

Sean: food insecurity.  Seeing people suffering after the pandemic.  Perception that everyone in D1 is well-off, but that is not the case.  There‘s a lot of diversity in the district.  Community fridges are great, Carl Gomes, etc. are being helpful.  QCC has a food pantry.  Kids who are choosing books over meals.  Goals is to change perception of D1 – money is not growing on trees.  Balanced resources around the district.  Tacoma getting rectangular field and spray park, 149 W Boylston Drive – worked with John Mahoney to get that cleared (more parks mentioned).  One of the most beautiful sites on the lake. 

Etel: did a walk audit with neighbors on Mill St 4-5 months ago.  #1 thing is pedestrian safety, children and elderly narrowly escaping being hit by cars.  Pleasant, June, Mill are all very busy.  Traffic calming measures, elderly/seniors/bikers/children need safe streets.  Meeting at West Tatnuck because child had been hit – crossing guard also hit.  We talk about public safety, public health – both issue.  People need a walkable city.  Green/walkable/transportation all related.  Free WRTA is part of this.  We also have a lot of vacant properties.  Park Ave, Big D on Mill Street.  That‘s an issue on their minds.  Incentives to make sure that we are building for neighbors, not for outside people.  All of our residents need to be included in decision-making processes. 

Q: at the NAACP candidate forum, every candidate says that they listen.  It is easy to listen to people who talk in ways that are familiar to you.  Has talked with those who consider themselves progressive but object when someone demonstrates anger or frustration, because it makes it hard to hear the logic.  Can you respond to that concern, what would you do?

Johanna: this just happened last week.  She was knocking on a police officer‘s door.  He was outside and it was a spectacle.  Maybe I can brighten his day…he said he wasn‘t voting for anyone who was not pro-police.  I‘m not, but I‘m not against them either.  I don‘t want people abusing authority.  She wanted to hear why he thought that about her.  He was already angry.  Went on a tangent with Main South.  I spent 25 minutes talking with him and his wife.  I come from a household with a DEA agent; I can understand where he‘s coming from.  We have an understanding.  We didn‘t walk away in anger.

Sean: 26 years in field of mental health and education – people can yell at him. We‘re such a big city.  On Saxon Road, issue with runoff coming into basements – but different from GBV or upper Burncoat or Lincoln Village.  8 neighborhood meetings in our district.  It‘s easy to make issues small – try to understand where people are from.  He grew up in single-parent household, moving quite a bit.  Gives him a good perspective on what needs are.  In the end is committed to finding common ground.  Also times when we have to tell people bad news.

Etel: started career as community mediator in small claims court, then taught about conflict resolution.  We cannot walk away from conversations because we feel angry.  At the end of the day, what‘s beneath anger and frustration is pain.  Pain of not being heard.  Doesn‘t want to police people‘s emotions.  We cannot get stuck in our separate corners and not have conversations.  Our lives are rooted in nuance and complexity.  Conflict is opportunity to look at how we relate to each other.  We need to come from place of compassion – build, not destroy.

Final statements:

Etel, from the heart: This has been a very difficult year for a lot of people.  Her office is located in a shelter.  There is not a day that goes by that she doesn‘t think about the kids on the steps of her building.  Purpose: wants to serve beyond normal definition of serving.  Pathway for those who will come beyond her.  Need doors opened, so that people can express hopes and dreams.  Has been hurt by a lot of negativity hurled her way, but as leaders lead with integrity, patience, ability to talk to all.  If elected, easy to make promises.  Commitment to listen, act, organize, to make sure we are building city for all people and not just a few.

Sean: the COVID disparity study from UMass is way for ARPA funds – do not need to reinvent, can do some strategic planning.  Walkability is important, 2 miles to get to school (without bus) and need studies to get to school.  At one point he was personally filling in a lot of potholes.  $110 million in streets scheduled to be repaired.  Need to figure out how to chip away at that – use unused tax levy.  He is very thoughtful – offered office hours during pandemic.  A great city councilor is an expert in partnering with others and bringing them together.  We have opportunity to not just be reactive/band-aid but have assessments can inform our practice and we can be proactive.  We need someone who is not a one-sided thinker, not just about one department in the city.  Lack of educated approach will stall the progress we have made.

Johanna: her 9-5 works for a nonprofit that contracts with EOHHS and Elder Affairs, directing people to get what they need.  A lot of what‘s missing is pointing people in the right direction.  If you are a councilor in the city, you should know where the resources are at.  She can relate to people in a real way and understand.  She can understand waiting in line at food pantries, going to CMHA.  Someone needs diapers for their baby – she can help them find the right resources.  I am not the voice – but I will amplify.  I may not be that polished diamond – but I am getting there.  I will not leave you out in the cold.

Worcester School Committee Forum notes – 10/13

video link

Telegram coverage

The Opt-Out people insisted on sitting rightnexttome because it was on Shanel‘s side so I moved to the other side of the room.  These people are really too much.

They also have a sign with many, many words.  Two signs, even more words.  They have been told to put them away. 

It appears that all the candidates are here.

Paul Matthews of the Research Bureau opens the forum…thanks the moderators (Kim Salmon and Liz Hamilton), thanks the two audiences (for a minute I thought he meant “the Opt Out people” and the rest of us – but of course he means those at home and those in person).  ELECTIONS MATTER. 

WEC, Chamber of Commerce, Mechanics Hall, Telegram & Gazette are also the hosts of this forum.

(While I listen to the intro from Kathleen Gagne, I just wanted to share that I thought Washburn Hall the most magical room in the world when I was a girl, and I was not wrong.)

More Opt-Outers.  I fear they are breeding.

This is a forum where someone will be asked a question, three other candidates respond, then original candidates will get a little rebuttal.  (This is typical WRRB forum format.)

Opening Statements:

Novick: running for fifth term.  Mother of three, two WPS grads, one soph at Burncoat in dual lang.  Former teacher, member of MTA at the time, works for MASC – focused on school policy and finance.  Advocate for a number of years.  Exciting times – will be appointing new superintendent.  Influx of federal funds.  Fought hard for Student Opportunity Act – big year for WPS.  Looking forward to continuing to serve on SC.

Biancheria: She is 6th on the ballot.  Public Schools most valuable resource.  Advocates for accountability and transparency.  Advocates FROM DAY ONE when she began her adventure as a SC member – for career pathways.  Working towards academic excellence.  Safety in our schools. 

[There is a super-obnoxious guy who has decided to set up a camera RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE AUDIENCE.  He is being moved.]

McCullough: success of schools today = success of city tomorrow.  Research & institute policies to prepare students for higher ed and workforce.  SHE ADVOCATED FOR A GOOD HEALTH CURRICULUM.  TAKE IT HEAD-ON, MOLLY.  Also updated dress code.  Listening to and collaborating with students, families, educators, community members, key.

Clancey: born and raised – stayed here to raise her two daughters, WPS students.  Volunteer with many orgs, for last 15 years worked with at-risk youth supporting them in their educational goals.  Just like every parents, wants best education.  Parents need to have a say in issues impacting kids. 

Kamara: early voting starts October 23.  We must create a strong ladder of support – so children can have opportunity parents didn‘t have.  Born in W Africa/Liberia, came here 2004.  Started at Canterbury, Sullivan Middle, South High.  Wants to advocate for those who have academic challenges – need more support for ESL students.  She participated in programs that allowed her to have a full scholarship for college, then get master‘s degree. 

Johnson: born and raised in Worcester.  Product of WPS, in 1989 he lost his cousin in the hallways at South High.  He learned the values of closeness, community.  He and wife have two kids, WPS students.  Social worker at DCF over 20 years.  Youth coach and mentor for Worcester Cowboys football, Jesse Burkett LL, other places.  SEIU local 509 shop steward.  Platform is safe and healthy schools, social / emotional supports, high quality education

Mailman: mother and grandmother, son graduated Burncoat in 2005.  Her family business for 140 years – our public education is the lifeblood, we need excellent schools for all students across all neighborhoods.  System should be more inclusive to all.  Involvement with Worcester Tech.  Talks about Innovation Pathways, which takes kids from comprehensive high schools to Tech after school for voke ed.  Strategic plan needs updating.  Have served/chaired numerous boards.  Must expand early education opportunities.  Grade-level reading. 

Soucy: very excited to be here.  Grew up all around the city, 5 diff elementaries, 2 middle, graduated North.  Grew up in poverty, trauma in early life, got pregnant in 9th grade.  Had son just before 20th grade.  Homeless at 15.  Lived in teen mom shelters, continued to strive toward education.  Took many buses to graduate.  Went to Becker for two years, then barber school.  Worked in urban barber shops, eventually opened her own.  Education is important, but have someone at table who understands poverty is long, hard road.  Someone who lived it and overcame it.

[We are told that candidates can take their masks off to speak.  This is, of course, inconsistent with the city mask mandate.]

Q1: metrics to eval candidates for superintendent, top goals

Biancheria: What is your experience?  What are your experiences?  WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT OUR UNIQUE CITY?  If you are not from this area, then you should be learning about it.  If you‘re from here, YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN INVOLVED.  How would you work with principals in this district?  Principals are ALL VERY IMPORTANT AND ALL MATTER.  VISIT ALL THE SCHOOLS.  BIG SHOES TO FILL.  NEW SCHOOLS.

Johnson: ability to lead in Worcester.  Accountability, collab with parents/students/community.  Vision for city schools.  Next superintendent needs to be diverse, work with different cultures. 

Novick: she does superintendent searches for a living.  While Worcester is large for Commonwealth, not large by national school district standards.  Administrative experience that corresponds to the size of the district.  Strategic thinker who can break down silos, identify with student body.  A person of ethics and strong integrity.

McCullough: innovative, take us to the next level.  Strong communication skills, problem solver, someone who shares values of the community.  Role of super is not an easy one.  Need to be able to use the criticism that is reflective.

Soucy: super needs to be FROM WORCESTER.   It‘s a UNIQUE PLACE.  Strong advocate for parent involvement.  Knowledge and preferably experience with community schools.  High measurable outcomes on educational outcomes and grad rates.  Strong leadership, managerial and conflict resolution skills.  (There was more, there was a lot.)

Mailman: served at national searches at nonprofits.  Every time there has been a national search.  The process makes us better, regardless of who gets the job.  Listen to new ways of doing things.  There are people who are doing things better than us.  Strategic thinker, team builder.  Pay attention to student success metrics, academically.

Clancey: significant managerial experience in urban district.  Strong leader who is not afraid to delegate.  Wants staff to be able to share their ideas and implement solutions. 

Kamara: agile leader.  Change how many people in community see school district.  Worcester has had decrease in students from PreK.  Busing – sexual health curriculum – improve diversity / communication.  Community partners, parents, so Worcester can be equitable. 

Q2: discipline.  Overall number of suspensions, drawn attention of community.  How do you feel about current?  How to address disproportion of students of color being suspended?

Johnson: unacceptable.  His children, and all children, should have the chance to grow, not suspended at higher rates than white students.  Wraparound services.  More outreach/communication with parents at home.  To be able to talk to principals, they have different perspective on kids.

McCullough: we have begun to see some improvement, but more work needs to be done.  Adjustment counselors, restorative justice.  Safe/supportive schools – DESE‘s roadmap will help eliminate issues.

Kamara: need to look at how we are suspending kids in PreK-3rd grade.  For those above 3rd – use strategies like restorative justice, work with teachers so that they have the training / ability to support students.  Increase staffing, adjustment counselors.

Biancheria: increase programs that help students cope with anger, drug centers, give them a reason to come to school and learn.  MGL ALLOWS US TO SUSPEND LITTLE KIDS.  Unequal part of this – out of time.

Johnson, rebuttal: increase access to programs for youth.  Year-round jobs, community-based programs. 

Q3: busing.  School Committee will work to in-house busing model.  National bus driver shortage – how will this be a better model, more reliable service than third party?

Clancey: I don‘t know how we can get worse.  Has not just been in the last two years.  Now that we have funding available, take advantage.  Staff in transpo dept is wonderful, and they think we can do it.  Once we can train bus drivers, we will do a good job.

Mailman: In favor of in-house move.  Never thought she would say that, but there has been tremendous energy/work to do this – workforce development.  Maybe custodians also drive buses.

Johnson: has been dealing with this with his daughter.  Concern is with Teamsters who drive for Durham, will want to have a conversation to get them on the Worcester system.  Retain, train more drivers.

Novick: if the parents seem definitive about this, it‘s because we see it.  Her daughter was late for math class for three weeks.  She had kids who use WPS buses – those phones get answered.  If we can‘t get kids to school, we can‘t learn.

Clancey: Waiting for kid to come from school – not knowing where they are – all in agreement.

Q4: sex ed on opt-out, public debate was contentious.  What is your position?  Do you believe anything else should be done?

Soucy: IS NOT AGAINST SEX ED.  Against 3Rs and anything like it.  Continued agenda to confuse parents who would like to opt-out.  Online form deadline was Sept 10 and then taken down.  It was hard for parents to opt out.  Parents are still the most important.  [Opt Out section claps]

Biancheria: VOTED NO – Admin should have developed but they fell short.  You can opt out, take survey with students, standing committee worked hard.  After 1 year, can have additional discussion.  We have opportunities if we need to tweak or change.

Clancey: as a youth worker, have sat down with 15-year-olds in sex industry.  Listen to any of their stories and tell me – 100% supportive if this prevents one student from their situation.

McCullough: not pornographic, go to WPS, read the actual curriculum before you make your decision [Opt Out people actively trying to argue with her]

Soucy: we need to give kids – watching porn, masturbation, exploitation – people hooked on sex, when do we stop?  What‘s the limit?

[much clapping.  These people need to just shut up at some point]

Q5: diversity in how students are taught, in workforce

Kamara: mechanisms that will allow Caucasian educators to work with diverse population

Novick: 16% nonwhite educators.  Number of models – we never look closely at what we are doing.  Boston/Cambridge work on retention.  Recruitment only gets you so far.

[The Opt Out people have their signs up.  I have complained]

Soucy: she was a barber for years, privilege of working with people in diverse demo.  Students at Lincoln Street (WHO ARE NEAR A METHADONE CLINIC) have a different experience from Flagg.  Community schools.

Johnson: more Black/Latino/Asian teachers.  When kids identify with someone they can relate to, builds core relationships.

Kamara: how to certify educators.  MTEL prevents some from becoming teachers in WPS.

Q6 for all: how should strategic plan be updated?  How to capitalize on community resources?

Novick: Strategic plan adopted when she was off SC – from parent‘s eye, she filed complaint because public was not allowed to attend some sessions.  We are now doing revision in governance (public meetings).  You would not get a sense of level of poverty or ELL if you read the current strategic plan.  Overdue for revision, need better one than what we have.

Soucy: talks about community school strategy.  It is, as always, unclear if she knows what a community school is.  School/staff/family strategic partnership.

Johnson: improving absenteeism of students.  ELL classes, Special Ed classes, increasing, and no teachers to meet their needs.

Clancey: pandemic made us achieve some goals, like technology.  Vision is to get this updated in 5 areas of focus, work with SC members to get community groups in those areas.

McCullough: more community involvement, accessible involvement.  Families, students should have a voice.  What she said was very mild, but the guy behind me insists that it‘s wrong.

Mailman: missed opportunity not having ongoing community engagement.  Hit tech goal because we had a pandemic.  New superintendent will have big impact on how we go.

Kamara: alternative school graduation rates, on time.  Use the support of students, have voice in the plan. 

Biancheria: FOUR PIECES: expand our safety dept, holistic approach for our students, involve stakeholders, align budget with strategic plan.  MISSING OPPORTUNITIES FOR COLLEGE AND CAREER PATHS.  Staff trained, trauma services are available.

Q7: resource officers…what should be in school safety plan?

Mailman: agrees with CM and chief of police that we need to change way we do business.  Listen to communities who have been negatively impacted by police in schools.  Should actively involve those communities in new plan.  Mystifying why we don‘t have a new plan yet.  Other ways to engage police in schools that is favorably received by everyone.

McCullough: SROs have done a good job in schools, but time to change what that looks like.  Looks forward to plan by CM and chief of police.  Use SROs in ways that enhance the community.

Kamara: supports plan to look at other means for safety.  Some students come from civil war, need social-emotional support.  Never had SROs – had security guard, Carlos, at South.  Supports community policing.

Clancey: school safety office was one of her issues.  Arrest rates have gone down since we have had SROs.  Need to continue close relationship with WPD.

Q8: early education.  Many parents chose not to send kids to PreK or K during pandemic.  What should schools do to catch these students up?  How to expand preschool, other early childhood ed programs?

Biancheria: we have opportunity – presently very limited resources and haven‘t expanded the program.  We have to make sure we have the PreK programs, welcoming, new families in the city.  Yes, pandemic set us back, but opportunity once things calm down to have welcoming schools.

Johnson: offer more preschool opportunities.  Half-day doesn‘t fit working parent.  More preschool opportunities, early education – socially, emotionally beneficial in the long term.

Mailman: partner with existing child care agencies in city.  What do we do in WPS and what do we do with partners in the community?  We can do better job with community partners, early ed is a good place to start.

Soucy: one child had an IEP – direct correlation between poverty, poor reading, and crime.  Full-day preK, using tech to increase involvement. 

Biancheria: should look at in context of Student Opportunity Act.  SHE SEES MONFREDO IN THE AUDIENCE AND ACKNOWLEDGES HIM.

Q9: technology access.  WPS distributed chromebooks and hotspots…emergency response.  What to do beyond pandemic?  How to ensure funding is sustainable?

Novick: important to acknowledge that the district failed in March 2020.  We did jump in eventually.  One of ongoing gaps has been internet connection, glad serving on municipal broadband committee.  It‘s a utility and should be treated as such.  We need to budget in Chromebook replacements.

Clancey: when we shut down, we weren‘t ready for it.  Need to maintain technology – hopes to have money to do it in the future. 

Biancheria: our budget is $3.2 million, she‘s going on to talk about Chromebook budget, etc.  This is meaningless to me.  She is reading a list – we are switching from Microsoft to Google Suite. 

Kamara: agrees with Novick, need municipal broadband, part of her 5-point plan.  ARPA funds could be used to train teacher to use the various platforms they needed to help kids.  Also to help parents.

Novick: city but small enough to solve problems other municipalities can‘t – Research Bureau encouraged a lot of people to think in that direction.

Q10: classroom size, employee shortage, how to incentivize employment at WPS, how to recruit/retain?

McCullough: starting to see shortages in educators, diverse pop of educator in system.  Support from committee perspective, need to have advanced mentoring.  Crucial to retain educators who may be on the fence.  Ensure we are working to support them. 

Soucy: agrees with Molly.  Prior to pandemic, 70% of students in poverty.  She knows how important it is to support – COMMUNITY SCHOOLS is the only answer to all of our issues.  (Seriously, I am not making this up, she read the same thing she already said two times about community schools.)

Novick: maybe you need to pay people more.  MTEL has been a significant barrier, glad that Kamara mentioned that.

Mailman: look at what others are doing and adopt best practices

McCullough: good professional development!

FINAL QUESTION #11: Academics, for all, students learning has been declining, social/emotional needs significantly impacted, what policies to ensure students are supported academically, socially, emotionally?

McCullough: why was MCAS held last year?  Grossly unfair.  Addl adjustment counselors, wraparound, providing addl afterschool programs.  Roadmap to recovery – foster sense of belonging.  (There was more, it was good)

Clancey: saw social/emotional toll it took on her own child, advocated for admin to bring in outside counseling services.  They need to listen to us and our concerns and what will be best for our students.  We made reallocation for support services.  Will continue to advocate for that.

Johnson: saw impact it had on kids, their friends, and other families.  We need to listen to the kids and slow down a bit.  Very important that teachers get to know, establish relationships again.  First – stop, slow down, build connection again.  Adjustment counselors, social workers, increase wraparound services.

Biancheria: thanks everyone for covering issues.  THE SOCIAL MEDIA IS TELLING THINGS TO OUR KIDS.  Training for our students, but teachers had difficulty adjusting as well and should also be supported.  Mental/social factors: need solutions, not just symptoms.  NUTRITION – THEY HAD NUTRITION OFFERED TO THEM THROUGH WPS

Mailman: dear friend just retired and wanted a platform of field trips and recess.  Recess and interaction with their friends.  There are people in the workplace who don‘t know how to interact with each other.  [Is she talking about Opt Out Corner?  One can only hope.]

Novick: changes to WPS budget are the biggest changes any SC has made in two decades.  We took responsibility for kids‘ needs – that is our job.  Mental health supports for students and staff.  MCAS fell in line with the state.  That was not forecasted.  Our students did well – credit to teachers and staff.

Kamara: elimination of SAT/ACT at universities – can we find a way to adjust the MCAS?  Portfolios of what the students can do – more creativity.

Soucy: As mother of two teenage sons, one who just barely graduated: kids are struggling mentally.  WHAT‘S GOING ON ON SOCIAL MEDIA IS TOUGH.  Parents have a unique time right now.  Get them back into the school with their kids – COMMUNITY SCHOOLS BABY.  Use outside supports.  Need schools open at later hours.

Closing statements – I will only type items of interest –

The guy in back of me is cheering on Jermaine Johnson.  Do we need to say more?

Novick: we need people who make decisions based on research, not on emotion.  BURN

Mailman: people have wide range of views, it‘s our job to bring it together into one system

Biancheria ends with rapping on the table and demanding your vote.  I would expect nothing less.