School Committee Elections Highlight Need for Communication

School Committee Elections Highlight Need for Communication

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The School Committee candidates answer questions at a forum before the election. | Submitted photo

by John Houle

The School Committee elections on May 11 resulted in the reelection of chairperson Glenn Maston, the end of Michele Tousignant Dufour’s tenure, and the election of Matthew McDowell and Nina Ryan.

Both McDowell and Ryan have education experience. McDowell is an assistant principal in Acton while Ryan worked in a Sudbury child care facility.

All of the newly elected candidates as well as the voters emphasized the need for communication between the School Committee and the public.

Elizabeth Cautela was one student who voted.

“I based my vote on the budget forum,” Cautela said, “which made me angry due to people saying that students didn’t matter.”

McDowell also had a reaction to the budget forum.

“When I saw the budget forum, I was surprised,” McDowell said. “The district should have had a clearer, more transparent plan.”

Maston felt differently.

“We don’t want to harm student’s experiences,” Maston said, “so the cuts made were unfortunate yet necessary.”

The cuts resulted in the public being unhappy with the School Committee. While Maston still stands by his opinion on the cuts, he does believe School Committee can learn from the cuts and repair the relationship between the public and School Committee.

“I think School Committee has learned from last time,” Maston said, “and needs to work on building a relationship with the community.”

McDowell agrees with Maston.

”We need to focus on listening and learning,” McDowell said, “so that we can find out what the public wants.”

Ryan felt that people elected her because “they wanted change. They wanted a new voice.”

She believes that “the community has a strong voice, but no one shows up to the meetings.”

While Cautela does not go to the meetings, she says that there is another place where people’s voices can be heard.

“School elections are vital,” Cautela said, “as voting lets you voice your desire for change.”

“Voting is a civic duty,” Cautela said, “so you can’t complain if you don’t vote.”  

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