SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury is gearing up for its 2021 municipal elections on May 4. As voters get set to head to the polls, the Community Advocate has zeroed in on contested races for prominent bodies like Board of Selectmen and School Committee.
The Community Advocate reached out to candidates who filed paperwork to appear on their town’s ballot and asked them to submit a personal statement as well as answers to three specific questions.
See those biographies and read extended questions and answers from Shrewsbury School Committee Candidate Jon Wensky here…
And see profiles of other candidates…
I’m a lifelong resident of Shrewsbury and have served as an elected member of the School Committee for the last 6 years. I’m a graduate of the University of Hartford with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications. For the last 18 years, I have been employed with Staples, Inc. in Framingham holding various leadership positions in Sales Operations and eCommerce. Preparing for a post-pandemic return to school comes with many challenges and unknowns. I believe Shrewsbury needs tested, experienced leadership in this position. Our work during this difficult time is just beginning and that’s why I am running for reelection.
What do you see as the most important issue(s) facing the Shrewsbury Public Schools today?
Adequate funding for educational services is the most important issue facing Shrewsbury.
Shrewsbury Public Schools has had recurring budgetary challenges as a result of the town’s well documented structural deficit. Prior to COVID, in March 2020, we had a $1.9 Million budget gap & reduced staffing by 30 coming into the current school year. Next year, our schools face a $4.8 Million budget gap that can only be solved by successfully passing an operational override at the Town Election on May 4. If that question is defeated, SPS will need to cut an additional 48 teaching positions and we will not be able to open the new Beal Elementary School. This will lead to larger class sizes & program reductions across all grade levels. Additionally, post-COVID, there are many unknowns which include the extent of learning loss as a result of remote & hybrid learning. Now is not the time for Shrewsbury to reduce the resources our students desperately need.
COVID-19 has uniquely impacted school systems and members of the school community. How would you approach the ongoing questions and decisions any school committee member will have to make as the vaccine rollout and school reopening process continues?
Since March 2020, we’ve been collectively writing the public education playbook, as a school district, for navigating a pandemic. The ink is still drying on hybrid and remote learning. We now enter the next new chapter in returning to in-person learning. At every phase of this challenge, the health and safety of all students & staff have always been my primary focus as a School Committee member. It is important that we follow the data and the science behind social distancing, mask wearing, and vaccinations to ensure we are safely re-opening our schools. We need to remain steadfast in assessing the needs of our students and ensure our staff has the resources and support they need to be successful. We must to continue to work together through the many unknowns that lie ahead and kindly ask the community for their patience, flexibility, and grace.