‘It is the best job in government:’ Palitsch reflects on School Committee career


‘It is the best job in government:’ Palitsch reflects on School Committee career
Jason Paltisch has announced that he will not be running for another term on the School Committee. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

SHREWSBURY – In 2012, Jason Palitsch was fresh out of college when he began his campaign for Shrewsbury School Committee. 

“As someone with a deep appreciation for our schools and with a commitment to public service,” he said in a campaign speech at the time, “I feel compelled to step up and work to ensure that today’s Shrewsbury students receive the same kinds of opportunities that I was fortunate enough to have.”  

After serving for three terms, Palitsch has chosen not to run for reelection in May, noting how the time seemed right for “someone with a fresh perspective to step onto the committee.” 

From Shrewsbury student to School Committee

Palitsch has always called Shrewsbury home. He attended Shrewsbury Public Schools throughout his entire school career and graduated from Shrewsbury High School in 2007. 

Though Palitsch has always been proud to live in Shrewsbury, the town’s struggles originally sparked his interest in town government. While he was in high school, Shrewsbury voters rejected a series of operational overrides. By his senior year, Palitsch was actively campaigning to get the override passed.

“I was seeing services get cut all around me,” Palitsch said. “I got involved… I got a bunch of friends involved… I never left my involvement in municipal government after that.”

After high school, Palitsch attended Northeastern University where he majored in political science with a concentration in public policy. Before long, he found himself back in Shrewsbury and saw that the town was dealing with familiar problems.

At age 22, Palitsch decided to run for School Committee. He soon became the youngest person ever to be elected to that position.

“Shrewsbury Public Schools still faced the same financial crises that we had been facing years before,” Palitsch said. “I wanted to bring the perspective not only of a relatively recent graduate, but I also wanted to make sure the School Committee was communicating clearly and effectively with residents about the need for greater financial support.”

Shrewsbury passed its operational override in 2014 by a nearly 2-1 vote.

Jason Palitsch’s time on the School Committee

After his first term ended in 2015, Palitsch chose not to run for reelection. When a seat opened in 2017, he was again elected to the School Committee. Palitsch was reelected for his third term in 2020. 

Throughout his nine years on the committee, Palitsch has been involved in several major initiatives and projects, including the construction of the new Maj. Howard W. Beal Elementary School, which supporters said would address the growing space needs of the community. 

‘It is the best job in government:’ Palitsch reflects on School Committee career
Jason Palitsch hands graduates their diplomas. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

Palitsch also identified the creation of tuition-free, full-day kindergarten as one of his proudest moments on the committee. 

“Shrewsbury was one of the last districts that didn’t have tuition-free, full-day kindergarten for all students. We finally do now,” he said. 

Palitsch acknowledged the tough votes he made as a School Committee member. In particular, he pointed to the contentious 2021 school mascot debate and the “regretful” language used throughout the community. Palitsch was one of two members who voted against keeping the “Colonial” as the mascot. 

Grateful for his colleagues on the School Committee and district staff, Palitsch noted that he will “remember the incredible dedication of the staff of Shrewsbury Public Schools at all levels.”

The feeling seems to be mutual. In a Shrewsbury School Committee meeting on Jan. 4, Shrewsbury Superintendent Joe Sawyer said that he always appreciated Palitsch’s “support of our staff, families, and students.”  

“It makes me proud to see an alum do so well not only representing his community in this important leadership role, but also [succeeding] personally and professionally,” Sawyer said. 

The School Committee has many challenges ahead, Palitsch said. 

He said the district will need to address learning loss from the pandemic, the growing need for mental and emotional health support, and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging among students and staff. 

Though the job can be tough, Palitsch wouldn’t have it any other way.

“You will have to have difficult conversations, you will have to disappoint people, you will have to have things said about you that you don’t care for, and you will have to have negative things said to you from time to time. But, despite all of that, it is the best job in government,” he said.

What comes next for Jason Palitsch

Though he may be leaving the School Committee, Palitsch has no plans to leave Shrewsbury.

“I plan to be a resident of Shrewsbury for a long time,” he said. “I plan to continue to be a very vocal advocate for Shrewsbury Public Schools. I intend to continue my service as a Town Meeting member, [and] I may explore other opportunities to serve in town government sometime in the future.”

For now, Palitsch intends to devote a little more time to other activities around town. In June, he will become the Shrewsbury Rotary Club co-president alongside Shrewsbury Housing Authority Chairman Kathy McSweeney.

Regardless of what he decides to do in the future, Palitsch has a lot of pride in his hometown. 

“I’ve always been proud to call Shrewsbury home, and I’m proud that so many other people continually want to make Shrewsbury their home,” he said.