Northborough Candidate Statement – School Committee – Lauren Bailey-Jones (Incumbent)


Northborough Candidate Statement – School Committee – Lauren Bailey-Jones (Incumbent)
Lauren Bailey-Jones

Why are you running?

I’m seeking re-election for Northborough’s School Committee to ensure our schools continue to provide a high level of education and services to our students through passing fiscally responsible budgets and robust policy. My passion for education, as a middle school educator myself, is my main motivation for running. Additionally, I am running for my children who haven’t entered school yet. In my work on school committee, I often think two decades into the future when my two young children will be graduating and how the school district will grow to meet the needs of students throughout the next ten or twenty years.

What are the three biggest issues facing the Northborough School Committee in order of importance?

Student Mental and Behavioral Health
Declining student behavioral and mental health is a complex issue requiring collaboration between families, local resources, and school staff.
Budget Constraints
Unanticipated budget constraints impede the School Committee’s ability to address some of the annual budget goals in a timely manner. Inflation, transportation, energy costs, and out-of-district tuition have impacted recent budgets. Collaboration with Town management and taxpayers, working with state representatives to advocate for more state funding, and re-thinking our financial landscape will be necessary in the future.
Long-term Capital Investments
Aging school buildings and infrastructure need updates, repairs, and renovations. Peaslee Elementary School is the next major long-term capital investment the district is focusing on, with a feasibility study approved at town meeting. Other buildings are in need of roof repairs, and continuous updates to schools is vital to maintain safe spaces for students and staff.

How well do you think the Northborough schools address the current education needs of the town? Please explain your answer.

Educators and administration work tirelessly to meet the needs of all learners in our schools. The educational landscape continues to evolve and leans on schools and educators to address a variety of needs in the classroom beyond traditional learning that impact classroom learning, such as mental health, behavioral health, and social health. Northborough hires and retains exceptional and passionate educators who strive to meet our diverse student needs. There is more room for growth here, as student needs change year by year, and in some cases day by day.

Looking to the future, what steps should the schools take to address the educational needs of 2030? 

Education is changing because our students are changing. The mental health of students will be a key educational need of students in 2030 and beyond. To prepare for the future, we must now do work to gather and vet resources, determine best practices for health and behavioral interventions, and train educators and staff.

Additionally, the educational needs of our students are diversifying. Currently, 40% of our students are classified as High Needs, according to DESE. As our student body becomes more diverse, speaks more languages, and requires a wide variety of teaching practices, it is imperative that our budget discussion involves careful planning so that vulnerable student demographics are prioritized.

What role do you see the schools in playing in sustainability initiatives?

After a favorable town meeting vote, the Northborough school district is moving forward with a solar project that will involve leasing the roofs of Proctor, Lincoln St. and Zeh Elementary Schools for the installation of solar arrays. This initiative is one that is almost a decade in the making, and it is exciting that the elementary schools will be following in Algonquin’s footsteps.

As we look into options for updating aging infrastructure, options to minimize energy and water use should be considered such as updating insulation, using geothermal wells, and maximizing greywater potential.

Additionally, involving students in sustainable practices such as rainwater re-use, composting, and smart energy-reduction practices can have a life-long impact on our learners.

What is your relevant experience to serve on the Northborough School Committee?

I have served on the Northborough School Committee for two terms (six years). During this tenure, I have collaborated with other school committee members, administrators, educators, parents, and students on many subcommittees: Policy (6 years), Coalition for Equity (4 years), Health & Wellness (2 years), School Start Time Task Force (2 years), School Calendar Study Group (2 years), Capital Planning (1 year) and Music Study Group (1 year).

Collaborating with others as a school committee member is something that I truly enjoy, and when attending meetings, I bring several other perspectives: teacher and mother. My experiences as a middle school teacher allow me to understand strengths and challenges schools face on a daily basis. Additionally, as a mother to two toddlers, I bring the perspective of a parent who is envisioning the future for my children’s education. These perspectives, coupled with my six year tenure, drive me to ask questions that will lead to deeper understanding, problem-solving, and collaborative opportunities.

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