My positions on the issues important to Newton's Students.

Newton is no exception; schools and cities nationwide are facing troubling times. The budgetary issues we now face, and the continuing problems in food service, security, and other areas demand a student voice asking tough questions and demanding answers. With every issue that there is, I seek a conciliatory, common-sense solution that protects students and the best interests of our city in a cost-effective way. Here is how I stand on some of these issues:

1. The Budget: I'm not an economist. But it should be clear to everyone that we need to solve the structural deficit if we are to maintain a school system that we will still recognize as our own. I support innovative ideas to work on this deficit, for example, using video technology to allow a teacher to teach two different classes at the same time, bidding out food service so we stop losing money, and hiring a Chief Financial Officer for the school system so that our $180 million budget is managed by more than two people. I also think that it's time to review benefits - health care, pensions, etc. - to see how much we could save by switching to more effective ways of giving benefits and maybe reducing these benefits for new teachers.

2. Educational Accountability and STEM:
In the 2 years I have served on the School Committee, I have heard hundreds of reports from Food Service, Special Ed. Financing, and other areas, but not a lot about education.  This must change; with a more metrics-oriented Superintendent the School Committee could focus on education policy rather than having to micromanage the day-to-day operations of the school system. I support Geoff Epstein's desire for a reinvention of the way we teach STEM (science, technology,  engineering, and math) in our schools, especially at the elementary-school level.

3. Food Service: As was mentioned on the "Accomplishments" page, this has been one of my primary areas of focus. I support the recent proposal by the Citizens Advisory Group to bid out the food service program, with the current department as one of many bidders, thus forcing competition, cost-effectiveness, and quality into this program. Also, a review of the cafeteria layout of the new building should be undertaken by whoever wins the bid, making sure that the design is more efficient for shorter wait times.

4. Open Campus: While I don't have any direct control over open campus, and the school committee does not have any direct control over open campus, know that I strongly support it, conditionally for sophomores (they should have Cs or above) and unconditionally for juniors and seniors. If it ever comes up, I'll strongly advocate for its preservation.

5. Art, Music, Drama, Sports: In a world full of standardized testing, there is often pressure on schools to cut extracurricular or non-core classes in order to focus more on "passing the test". I believe that the Newton Public Schools must continue to offer a wide range of classes and extracurriculars for all student's interests. In fact, direct correlations have been found between these kinds of enrichment classes and reforms.

6. Fees: As you probably already know, right now busing and participation in sports is based on a fee paid by the family of each student. While I understand the concerns of those who say that fees disenfranchise less economically advantaged families, when given the choice between cutting a program or making it fee-based I would almost always choose to make it fee-based. Given that, however, it is important that family fee caps continue and that more programs are explored to ease the burden on families.

7. Newton North High School Building Project: I opposed Site Plan 5a (the current design) as soon as it was unveiled, appearing on NewTV and writing a column in the Newton TAB urging opposition to the site plan. Unfortunately, now we're stuck building it. What we should do is exclude the debt and move on.