Grafton Candidate Statement – School Committee – Laura Often (Incumbent)

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Grafton Candidate Statement – School Committee – Laura Often (Incumbent)
Laura Often

Why are you running?

I am running for relection to the Grafton School Committee because I believe that our public schools are the greatest asset Grafton has to offer its residents. I have dedicated the past ten years to helping to grow and improve the schools. While we do amazing work, there is still more we can do to help students recover from Covid, advocate for funding and ensure that all students are reciving the education they deserve. I am passionate about public education and hope to continue the great work I have done to help prepare students for what comes after Grafton High School.

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

1. Mental Health, we are still seeing students and faculty struggling with mental health as a result of Covid and the challenges they are facing in life. When people struggle with metal health it is impossible for them to learn and Grafton needs to continue to help students so they feel safe and comfortable at school. 2. Budget. Budget has been an issue since I’ve been on the committee. Grafton is consistently in the bottom of per pupil spending but also continues to have excellent schools. We have learned to do a lot with a little, but are often on the cusp of everything falling apart. We need to be able to support our teachers, enhance student learning and grow to keep up with the changing world. 3. Covid Recovery. Three years after Covid and we are still seeing students disengaging and struggling with their peers. We need to make student connection a priority and differentiate our instruction so each student is challenged.

The superintendent for GPS has called the FY25 budget “demanding,” relying on revolving funds to help fund operational costs. Would you support an override in 2025? 

It’s important to note that only the Select Board can put an override on the ballot. As a school committee member it is my job to make sure we are spending our money wisely and that we are advocating for the funds that we need to be able to education our students appropriately and continue to maintain the level of staffing we need to best support the students. While no one wants an override, I will do what is needed to keep our schools whole so yes, I would support and work hard to make sure the override passes by educating the community and keeping our budget process transparent and open.

What is your opinion on the use of AI in the classroom? 

AI is not going away and it is important that our students learn to use it for what it is, a tool. Teachers and students have the opportunity to learn to use this exciting new technology to help support their learning. It should never replace direct learningand writing, but can be used to save time on basic tasks and help students with research and ideas.

What is your relevant experience to serve on School Committee?

I have served on the school committee for ten years and have chaired four times. I am a board member for the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and have experience working with our state legislators to advocate for funding. While on school committee, I have served on a variety of committees including strategic planning, ARPA, budget subcommittee, policy and negotiated several successful contracts. I have built strong relationships with the district leadership team and teachers and worked together to improve our student learning through curriculium changes, professional development, and educational updates. I volunteered on two override committees to past successful overrides that helped keep our services level-funded and our schools stable. During Covid, I worked directly with the superintendent to develop our covid plans and communicate those changes to our community. I have the experience and committement to continue doing great work on the committee.

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