Southborough Candidate Statement – School Committee – Chelsea Malinowski

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Southborough Candidate Statement – School Committee – Chelsea Malinowski
Chelsea Malinowski

Please provide a brief biographical background on yourself. What should voters know about you?

My husband, Jason, and I moved to Southborough in 2013. Finding a community with an excellent school system and a strong sense of community were very important to us. We both went through public school systems and hoped the same for our own children. Ten years later, we have three kids (seven, six, and four) that will all be in the Southborough public schools next year. I have been fortunate to get involved in various aspects of our community through coaching, Kindergroup, volunteering in the schools, and town boards and committees.

Why are you running?

For the past five years I have served our town in various roles: Select Board, Advisory Committee, and Board of Health. It has been rewarding to serve the residents and make a positive impact. The School Committee is losing two very tenured members and I believe that my experience of serving the town would be an asset. I understand Open Meeting Law and following processes to have an open and transparent government. Some of the most important parts of being an elected official is to have an open mind, listen to others, and come to best decision based on all the facts. The last five years I have listened to the schools’ needs, challenges, and wish lists and been supportive of their asks. We are very fortunate to have amazing teachers, school administration, and support staff educating our children. We need to continue to support them and make sure they have what they need to have a successful district. There is always room for improvement, and I hope to work collaboratively to identify those opportunities and execute.

After more than two years, COVID-19 has started to recede. How do you believe the schools are handling the impact from the pandemic – mental health, MCAS scores, etc.? 

My oldest child started Kindergarten in Fall 2020. Looking back now, I realize how fortunate we were to have the teachers and staff who truly cared about our children and did the best they could given the situation. Even though the public health crisis is over, I do not believe we will know for some time about all of the impacts of COVID-19. Teachers have done a great job adapting to students needs by listening to parents’ concerns and providing extra attention as needed. One of the negatives for students due to COVID-19 was the increased use of technology which has exposed our children to more screen time and social media at a younger age. I think this will continue to present challenges for the school district to help with educating students and supporting them on how to handle social media. The situation was unprecedented, decisions were difficult, people had very different views and I think the district, school administration, and the school committee did the best they could to listen and make the best decisions they could.

What are the three biggest issues facing Southborough schools?

1. The future of Neary School because it needs a significant amount of capital and is the oldest school in the district. Complicating matters is the fact that we have three elementary schools and transition students every other year until sixth grade. This is disruptive to all students but especially difficult for those who have built relationships with specialists and require additional services because they must learn a new team every other year. 2. How to balance demands on new programming while fitting them into the overall budget is challenging. Over the last several years the school district has requested minimal increases for its operational budget. They also have a list of new programs and initiatives that stakeholders have requested to incorporate into the curriculum. 3. Mental health impacts from a variety of influences like isolation from COVID-19, social media, and access to harmful substances. I think this is an area that is very challenging to address but essential to the overall wellbeing of all students.

If elected, how would you address these issues?

If elected, I would work with our school administration who have been diligently investigating the best options for our students, teachers, and staff. It is imperative to work collaboratively with other town boards and committees so that there is consensus around the use of any decommissioned building. I would help to plan for new programs so they are successful in terms of implementing and are fiscally responsible. Many of us moved to Southborough because of the great school reputation and it is imperative that we continue to improve our offerings for student education and growth. I would ensure that the district continues to collaborate with other resources in town who provide services that enhance our children’s support in school. Southborough will be receiving Opioid settlement money on a yearly basis. I would like the school district to weigh in on ideas to utilize that funding to benefit school-age children.

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