Northborough – Two candidates will be on the May 14 Annual Town Election ballot for two spots on the K-8 School Committee. Here, in their own words, are their bios and thoughts on four issues –
John Kane – My name is John Kane and I am a candidate for the K-8 School Committee for the town of Northborough. My wife Sue and I have lived in Northborough for 16 years. I have two children that have been blessed with wonderful teachers and staff in the Northborough Public Schools. My son Patrick is a sophomore at Algonquin Regional High School, and my daughter Meghan is in the eighth-grade at Melican Middle School. I's like to have the opportunity to give back to our community, and I's like to ask for your support and your vote.
Patricia Kress – After graduating from the University of Rhode Island in 1991, I went on to a career in credit and collections. After having my first child in 2001 I became a stay at home mom. I now have two children who are currently students at the Lincoln Street School. For the past six years I'se been a Tupperware Consultant and have enjoyed meeting many Northborough residents at parties and various vendor events. I'se been a Northborough resident and taxpayer for the last 16 years. I love this community and I's proud to raise my children here.
What specific career or personal experience in your past do you feel prepares you for this position and why?
Kane – I am the current President of the Northborough Education Foundation (NEF) and have held that position for the past four years. Our signature NEF fundraiser, Quiz Night, has become a fun and valuable event to benefit the public schools. My NEF responsibilities have fostered positive relationships with the principals at all the Northborough public schools, and with district administrators. I am certain that I can work with them to help continuously improve the quality education that has been a hallmark of our town.
Kress – I'se been a very active member of the Northborough School Committee since being appointed to an open seat in June 2011. Since that time I'se been a member of the policy development and collective bargaining subcommittees. Recently I met with Northborough's state legislators to stress the need for increased funds from the state to support our schools. Prior to becoming a Northborough School Committee member, I was the co-chairperson of the Lincoln Street School PTO for 2 years and the year prior to that I was the PTO secretary.
What is the biggest challenge you see facing the school district in the near future? What do you think can be done to address that issue?
Kane – As with most families, companies, and government agencies, the biggest challenge the school district faces is the budget. Maintaining the superior level of services and programs at our schools while being fiscally responsible is a tough task. I am also seeing a need to improve technology in the schools, from the grant requests that we are receiving at NEF. I hope that I can add my voice to the budget discussions so that we can make the hard decisions and enhance the fine reputation of the Northborough public schools.
Kress – In addition to the traditional teachings of reading and writing, our schools now need to teach 21st century skills such as communications technology, innovation, critical thinking and information literacy. We need to maintain and support our high quality teachers who can plan for these important skills and concepts to be a part of daily instruction. We also need to support the modernization and renovation of the schools in our district that need it while still being fiscally responsible.
In many towns, the school budget is 50% or more of the overall budget. What ideas do you have that will help ensure equity, so that the needs of the schools as well as the town will be met?
Kane – I have experience from the private sector, as the President of a manufacturing operation with a worldwide client base. I have seen what skill sets will be valued in a global economy. My responsibility as a member of the School Committee will be to advocate for the schools, and to ensure that our budget is fiscally responsible. Other boards and committees will have to do their part to ensure that the remainder of the town budget is also fair, equitable, and fiscally responsible. I'sl help my “team” and I'sl trust that the other “teams” will do the same.
Kress – Our Superintendent and Town Administrator have a great working relationship. Their cooperation and communications with the Northborough Board of Selectmen and the Northborough School Committee allows everyone to work together for the benefit of the entire town. This year our Board of Selectmen included in its State Legislative Priorities a number of issues that directly affect our schools, such as restoring Circuit-Breaker funding. Working together gives us a louder voice to address our concerns to the state. Additional state funding would benefit all of Northborough.
What is it regarding your personal history that makes you so passionate about public education?
Kane – I'se been a youth coach in Northborough for both boys and girls sports. I'se seen the value of investing in our Northborough youth. As NEF President, I'se had the distinct pleasure of funding a variety of grants for our public school teachers. NEF grants have supported special needs programs, the music program, and a program for students for whom English is a second language. To learn more about the NEF and our previously funded grants, visit our website at www.northboroughed.org. Supporters can also click on links there to make a tax deductible donation to benefit the Northborough public schools.
Kress – I strongly believe in the importance of education. All children of Northborough should have the best educational experience possible so they can grow to be responsible citizens and successful adults.