Photo: Newly-appointed School Committee member Thomas Caputo (right) is congratulated by Belmont School District Asst. Superintendent Janice Darias. Belmont Superintendent John Phelan is in the center of the photo.
Technology expert Thomas Caputo was appointed to the Belmont School Committee this morning, Monday, Nov. 17 to fill the vacancy created when Kevin Cunningham resigned from the six-member board last month.
“This is a great honor and I’m proud to have been selected,” said Caputo, who has been for the past two years the Chief Product Officer at FIKSU, a technology start up providing mobile marketing technology to app developers, game publishers and advertisers.
Caputo will serve on the committee until the Belmont Town Election in April 2015 when he can seek to fill the remaining two-years of Cunningham’s term.
The Richmond Road resident – who has lived in Belmont with his wife, Sarah and their eight-year-old, third grade twin daughters for the past seven years – was selected by a joint committee of the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee from eight candidates who had applied for the position.
What guided the majority of the Selectmen and School Committee to Caputo was his experience in finance and technology.
“I think the entrepreneurial and tech specialization along with the venture capital … [is the type of] analytical study of these important issues, particularly around enrollment, [is] critical for the school committee,” said Selectmen Chair Andy Rojas.
“It is the nexus of the technology and business solutions that really spoke to me,” said Laurie Slap, school committee chair.
A dual major (graduating with a BA in computer science and biophysical chemistry) while matriculating at Dartmouth, Caputo also has a MBA from Stanford.
After working in finance in Boston and London, Caputo became a group product manager at Microsoft’s main office in Redmond, Wash. for four years. He come back east to work in venture capital, product management for a software startup in New York before joining the senior execution team at Boston-based FIKSU.
“There is an incredible wave of really interesting start ups as well as established companies that are bringing new education technologies to the market that are … helping school districts across the country to find more efficient and effective ways to educate students,” Caputo told the Belmontonian.
“I do believe that, much the way we’ve seen technology disruptions shaping a lot of industries … Belmont needs to be on the forefront of finding ways to pick the best technology programs, bring them into the school system, train the teachers and administrators to use them effectively and executing all that for the benefit of the students,” said Caputo, who looks the part of the tech pro; wearing a smart blazer over a tie-less pattern shirt, skinny jeans and nifty shoes to the joint meeting.
But Caputo told the Belmontonian that bringing technology to the classroom is not simply “supplying everyone an iPad.”
“It’s great to have the infrastructure but that alone will not solve the issues we’re facing. It’s really about … the iPad and its integration into the curriculum, the selection of the right application and tools and the manner in which it’s all used,” he said.
Caputo pointed to his background in start ups as a plus when the committee faces the challenges of finding adequate funding to maintain the district’s first-rate education reputation.
“What start ups are able to do is find efficient, creative solutions to addressing otherwise challenging problems. I will bring a little bit of that culture to the school committee; to find ways to collaborate, to identify solutions and to look at things in, maybe, a little different way,” he said.
“It won’t be easy. It will require contributions from many different groups and constituents from across the town to make that effective. I hope I can contribute in that way,” Caputo said.