Photo: Meg Moriarty is running to fill a seat on the Belmont School Committee
The Belmontonian is providing candidates/campaigners of ballot questions in contested races the opportunity to make a request for votes in the final week of the election race.
The Belmont School Committee has lost the trust of the community. Since the COVID crisis began last year, they have been discussing options and obstacles instead of prioritizing learning. If there are problems, the School Committee must solve them. It must act to provide the best possible education for our children.
I am running for School Committee because I want to restore trust in the School Committee by solving the problems facing Belmont. I want to do this by engaging and being transparent with the community and by making our children’s education our highest priority. My experience in managing budgets, working with teachers and students of all abilities and cultural backgrounds, assessing educational programs, and serving as Butler PTA president and a Town Meeting Member makes me a strong candidate for the position.
The School Committee must also do its part to address Belmont’s fiscal crisis. It must identify and cut inefficiencies and collaborate with other town committees. And it must explain to the Belmont community how it uses town financial resources to fulfill its mission of educating our students.
Parents, friends, and former School Committee members have encouraged me to run because of my deep involvement in educational issues as a parent, volunteer, and owner of a small education consulting business. For three years, I served on the Butler PTA, including two years as president, where I worked with other parents, teachers, and administrators to build a strong community. I understand school and town concerns and our financial constraints. And as owner of an education research and evaluation business, I have experience planning, creating partnerships, and budgets.
In addition, I have more than twenty years’ experience in the Massachusetts education community and a doctorate in education. Early in my career, I ran a Boston University science outreach program for middle and high school students that served dozens of Massachusetts school districts. Later, at the Museum of Science in Boston, I wrote grants and managed outreach programs for underrepresented students and teacher professional development. Today, I teach best teaching practices to MIT graduate students and I own and run an education research and evaluation business, consulting for school districts, universities, and private organizations. I will bring these skills and experience to the School Committee.
Our School Committee has not responded to the COVID-19 crisis with urgency or vision. Last May, school committees in nearby towns began planning for students to return to school, declaring that they could not wait for guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to get kids safely back in school. They presented preliminary re-opening plans in July and August. Other Massachusetts school districts created remote learning academies with administrators and teachers dedicated to teaching remote students. In contrast, the Belmont School Committee voted to start with remote instruction in September and it appears they are moving to full in-person learning for students only in response to orders from DESE. Their delayed planning has forced students who must remain remote due largely to health reasons into classes taught by new teachers.
Our students have suffered academically and emotionally because of the School Committee’s inability to act and its broken decision-making process. Throughout this year, families and teachers have learned of decisions through last-minute emails about scheduling. The School Committee also oversaw elimination of the Chenery Middle School math acceleration program without explaining upfront why the program was eliminated. School Committee meetings have lacked open discussion and debate among the members, making it difficult for the community to discern why they vote in favor or against these issues.
Any decision affecting our students should be made after careful consideration of complete and correct data, community input, and open debate. Rather than engaging in open debate, consulting with neighboring school committees, learning best practices, or implementing effective plans, the Belmont School Committee continued to study, propose, and discard new schedules without implementing them. These delays have hindered teachers’ abilities to respond to the academic and social emotional needs of our students.
Belmont has always supported its schools. It deserves a School Committee that preserves and enhances that tradition in a transparent, respectful, and decisive manner. I ask for your vote on Tuesday, April 6.
Meg Moriarty, Candidate for School Committee