Two running for Boylston School Committee seat; Lorie Martiska.
Address: 305 Green St.
Relevant experience or education that will help on the committee:
I have a BS in Education/English and a master's degree in communications. I served on the Boylston Board of Health for 12 years, and served as secretary of the Boylston Softball and Baseball Board for five years. I have 23 years of senior leadership experience in healthcare and currently serve as the director of development for a human services organization in Worcester.
I have significant government advocacy and community engagement experience and have a proven track record in grant-seeking for federal, state and private grants.
Why are you running for the School Committee?
I am running for School Committee because I have a passion for leading change and helping to improve the quality of education for our children and the quality of life of our community. A number of parents have suggested to me that it is time for a change, and I agree.
What do you see as the role of a School Committee member?
The role of the School Committee is to set policy and strategic priorities for the school, as opposed to getting involved in the day-to-day operations of the schools. My role as a member would be to work collaboratively with the other members, the superintendent and other school staff to help determine the future direction of the schools, to set appropriate policy within our scope and to ensure there are adequate resources for our schools.
School committees are also important reflections of and connections to the community, listening to concerns and sharing information when it is appropriate.
What do you see as the most pressing issue facing the Boylston and/or regional district? How should the committee deal with it?
I am very concerned about budgetary accountability. We need to generate efficiencies and revenue to strengthen our schools without jeopardizing the financial security of our seniors and our community.
Boylston Elementary received $1,252 per pupil in Chapter 70 State funding last year, which is only 28 percent of the state average of $4,462. Every single neighboring community received more, including Northboro, Southboro and Shrewsbury. Boylston is clearly not going after its fair share and the whole community should be concerned about this. It affects us all.
What are some of the other important issues the schools face and how would you prioritize them?
We have to address the revenue problem. We must engage the entire community to advocate with legislators for Boylston and Tahanto to receive their fair share of Chapter 70 funds. We also need to work with selectmen and the Marketing Committee, which are working to attract business to the community. Increased support for the schools is vital, but it cannot be accomplished by jeopardizing the financial security of our seniors and our community.
We need to streamline the three districts and reduce costs. It doesn't necessarily require full regionalization to eliminate duplication and inefficiencies in the current system, although I think we should explore the full gamut of options. We must determine collaboratively what is best for our respective communities and students.
Decision-making must be based on a global awareness of what is best for the collective good and not on personal agendas. By accepting these roles, School Committee members should commit to step away from self-interest and focus on what is best for the children and the community.
I am also a big advocate of community involvement in the schools and in the School Committee. Meetings need to follow agendas, stick to a defined time schedule, stay on task and provide for community input. Four-hour meetings on a routine basis discourage parents and other interested people from participating and are disrespectful to all who do attend.
What should a modern education encompass?
I am committed to education that provides the basics, but also that provides the opportunity to apply acquired knowledge, to learn critical thinking skills, to express and to explore. I am also a huge proponent of the importance of art, music, theater and physical and health/wellness education, which all contribute to well-rounded, healthy and engaged students.
Technology is obviously an important topic and something with which we must keep pace. While it is great to see iPads, Macs and SmartBoards throughout the new Tahanto, I also think it is important that we teach responsible use of technology. Just because it is there does not mean it is always the only or best means of communication. Learning how to build relationships is a critical skill too.
As an English major, I have to put a plug in for one "back-to-the-future" subject and that is Latin. It is not only a strong vocabulary builder for science and medicine, but is also one of the best ways to learn the intricacies of English grammar.
Learning global languages and cultures is also important for our children's future work and travels in a global world.
On a different note, I am troubled by MCAS as a performance measure that pressures teachers to teach to the test, but I also understand we need some objective measures of performance. I would like to see some better statewide and local measures in the future.
What would you tell someone looking to move into Boylston about the schools?
Boylston has an outstanding group of teachers, other professionals and paraprofessionals working in the schools. Boylston Elementary School, the school where my children have been educated for the past six years, is a supportive, caring, personalized environment where every child is encouraged to succeed. Parents are engaged and supportive, and we feel a strong sense of camaraderie and community.
The residents of Boylston have shown their commitment to the future of our children by investing in a brand new middle high school. We should all be proud of the kind of community Boylston is, which is so well reflected in our schools. It is a wonderful place to live and to raise our children.
Editor's note: Boylston's municipal election is next Monday, May 13. Polls are open at the Municipal Office Building at Hillside, 221 Main St., from noon to 8 p.m.
CUTLINE: Lorie Martiska