The Mental and Physical Health Needs of Students and Teachers, and a Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum
Children learn best when they are healthy, happy, and able to follow a challenging but achievable curriculum. I will advocate for an environment that promotes a better balance between academic pursuits and social, emotional well-being. I will advocate for increased mental health provision in schools, and for systemic changes that will help mental health, including a more flexible curriculum. I will also work to ensure that educators have the supports and tools they need to teach effectively, so that Westford continues to attract and retain the talent that makes our schools outstanding. As we as a community begin to establish ways to live with COVID-19, I will be mindful of science and data when making decisions regarding enhanced ventilation, masking, testing and tracing. The safety of our children and educators is my main priority.
A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategy That Engages Our Community to Do the Work Necessary to Heal and Grow
The recent racist incidents in Westford are providing us with an opportunity to teach our students and teachers about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to develop a strategy that will allow our community to heal and unify. I will seek to move the conversation forward to address actions that must be taken to make Westford a more equitable, respectful and safe place, regardless of race, gender, religion, ability or income. I will ensure policies are equitable, including special education. Access to public education and enrichment opportunities should not be based on ability to pay and I support permanent, free, full day kindergarten for all. I will work to ensure that our children’s experiences are equitable between schools, subjects and teachers. I will advocate for an informed, organized and coherent community approach to DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion).
Improved Communication and Collaboration With Families and the Wider Community
Even if we disagree, I will be accessible and will listen to different points of view. High levels of collaboration and communication among all stakeholders are important if we are to secure the best education for every child. I will strive for open, transparent and direct communication between town committees, administrators, educators, families and students. I will be an advocate for working parents who need timely, clear, and forthright communication, and will seek to ensure that any calendar changes and scheduling decisions are made with working parents in mind. Communication and transparency are also critical to ensuring community involvement in decision making. I will recommend the use of a wider range of community forums, so that all interested parties have the opportunity to share their opinions, particularly prior to important votes.
A Fiscally Responsible Budget That Maintains Standards of Excellence
Falling student enrollment and the unexpected costs of COVID-19 are causing serious financial problems for our schools. Long term planning and stringent fiscal management is required to meet these challenges. I will expect any budgetary adjustments to be carefully considered and data-driven. Any cuts should be fairly distributed and not fall disproportionately on any specific age group. We need not compromise our high standards of excellence as we pursue a fiscally responsible budget. Our town has evolved and our budget must change along with it. Assessing budget priorities on the current needs of our schools, I believe that we need recalibration — a different perspective on what constitutes quality education, and a better system for delivering it.