Photo: Tim Flood is running for 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.
My name is Timothy Flood and I am a candidate for the Belmont School Committee. I currently serve as Co-Chair for the Belmont Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC), a member of the Belmont Age Friendly Advisory Council, and previously a member of the Chenery Middle School PTO. I differentiate myself as a military veteran, a local small business owner, and a NO vote NOW on Question 1.
As a SEPAC chair, my goals are centered around advocating for all our students’ free appropriate public education (FAPE) and supporting their families as best I can. I am running for school committee to continue to be an outspoken advocate for providing necessary resources to support our students, particularly our special needs students. If elected, these students will finally have a voice at the table that has long been absent. As a School Committee member, I would strive to ensure all our students excel academically, emotionally and socially, and that they are taught in safe and caring environment, whether online or in-person.
As parents, we know our children best and act as their teachers, advocates, and cheerleaders. I understand firsthand what it feels like to fight for my child’s education. Recently I was told “my child is benefitting from a ‘safety net’ of out of district services.” Yet, I fought for 13 years to get the school system to support my child’s basic educational needs, to allow equitable access to the curriculum as per FAPE and the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). I do not want parents to feel as dejected and alone as I felt over the years simply trying to obtain my daughter’s basic rights. I do not want parents to have to fight to ensure their children receive the most basic supports. Public education is a promise of equal educational opportunity that allows all children to thrive.
My most successful professional and personal experiences are built on teamwork. Teamwork and diverse leadership experiences are the foundation for the good decision making that is needed on the School Committee. I appreciate open, thoughtful dialogue with varying viewpoints, even if critical. I will make lines of communication with all parents my priority. These conversations allow me to continue to learn, understand new perspectives, and make decisions that reflect our community.
I am keenly aware that my opposition to the override on the ballot this April appears to put me in a contradictory position with my history of advocacy for special education students. Let me be clear, I do want to increase the school budget to better support all our students, as well as our teachers, and believe this is necessary for our future. However, I am genuinely concerned with the town-wide implications of the proposed override. As an example, at the November 19, 2019 School Finance Subcommittee meeting, $1.7 million was moved from the special education reserve allocation to help offset the town budget deficit to strengthen the town’s bond rating; the motion made and voted on without public comment. Replenishing this money in the school budget is included in the current override. I find it inexcusable that this kind of horse trading occurred, was swept under the rug, and that the town is now asking taxpayers to make up for their mismanagement while describing it as extra support for our schools.
This override does not give additional funding to special education, it is merely asking taxpayers for what was already taken. I have put in much time to research and understand the override and its benefits and drawbacks. This override effects our entire town, not only our schools. While I believe an override in necessary to correct the town and school’s financial course, this is simply not the right time and more work needs to be done to guarantee any override proposal truly supports the town.
Disagreements should not influence our unwavering support for our children’s education. I will work tirelessly and thoughtfully, to represent our entire educational community. I am not afraid to ask hard questions, to speak out, while understanding the importance of listening. We need to be the leaders of today our children aspire to become tomorrow.
Thank you for your support.
Timothy Flood, candidate for School Committee