School Committee Ward 7
The Newton School Committee consists of nine voting members: one person is elected (citywide) from each of Newton's eight wards, and the Mayor serves as an ex-officio member.
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Kathleen Burdette Shields
Do you support the proposed new City Charter? Why or why not?
Do you support privatizing any part of school operations? Why or why not?
If you were to write a school transportation policy, what would be your key components?
55 Hobart Rd., Newton, MA
I plan to vote yes on the Charter proposal. I am persuaded that reducing the number of City Councilors will make the group more efficient and effective. Having Councilors who are responsible to all of Newton’s voters will promote actions that benefit the entire city. We have far more in common across our eight wards than we have differences based solely on geography. I also value the Commission’s thoughtful comparative analysis and rigorous public hearings that support their proposal.
I am open to whether some non-educational support functions could be performed as well by a contracted specialty firm as by school employees. For example, our food service vendor’s expertise is hard to replicate as efficiently with employees. My view on any proposal depends on its details and trade-offs. As a member of a public sector union, I value union protections, but the issues in any contract need to be weighed against budget constraints that are posing cuts to educational programs.
A comprehensive transportation plan should provide safe paths to school for students who are able to walk or bike, and should focus on reducing traffic to our neighborhood schools. While each school’s plan will necessarily be unique, the overall policy goal should be to encourage exercise and decrease congestion. The school department should also evaluate, every year, whether there are changes that can be made to the locations and numbers of bus stops to better serve students and families.
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