Sunday, November 1, 2015

Franklin Candidate for School Committee - Trevor Clement

Trevor Clement and I met recently at Panera to talk about his campaign for School Committee. This is the summary of our discussion.

FM - What is your Franklin story?

Clement – My Franklin story actually begins in Providence. My wife and I were living there. We had been living in Somerville but she got a position at Brown so we moved down there. When she was pregnant, we wanted to find something close enough to Brown but with a good place to raise a family. The school system is what bubbled Franklin up. We looked at so many houses and finally found one we loved. We moved in and two weeks later my daughter was born. 
I went to the local debates when Jeff Roy was running against Peter Padula and that was really interesting. I saw an ad where someone was looking for a campaign manager for a race in Dorchester and went there. I got a little more into it. I was driving to Dorchester and knocking on doors of complete strangers and loved doing it. I had studied Political Science in my undergraduate work and then went to Law. The candidate in Dorchester ended up losing but I had gotten hooked. 
In the last election, there was an open seat available. Only 6 people had taken out papers for the School Committee. If we moved here for the school system and were going to take advantage of the school system, then I should help to give back by running. I took out papers, ran and got elected. 
I originally based my firm here and then when I got into criminal cases, I decided basing my business out of my home was not so good an idea, so I opened offices in Milford and Framingham. I had grown up in Lexington and lived in a few different places but in my short time in Franklin, I have come to think of Franklin as more my town than Lexington was.

FM - What do you see as the challenge(s) for the School Committee?

Clement – The first and most controversial one is the decision on PARCC when it comes down. We had voted to pilot PARCC because of the opportunity it would provide for Franklin. If PARCC comes down, there’ll be two types of schools implementing it, schools that are new to it, and schools like us where we have seen it before. I like that we have done the test drive and what we have learned from it. 
I want to take another look at school start times. I want to take a look at pushing back the high school, the middle schools and maybe the elementary schools. That is going to be a challenge but we have a couple if things to work with. The transportation contract is up for renewal as well as the teacher’s contract. We going to have to work with the parents as it will change their morning routine. It will also change the after hour sports and activities. Other districts have made the change so it is not impossible. The data on it says the kids do better with a later start. It is like the kids have diesel engines, slow starting in the morning but once they get going, they do well. 
I want to take another look at NARCAN. We took a look at it in the recent policy review and decided to pass on it. Now that the opioid problem is getting so severe, maybe it makes sense to reconsider. 
I also want to improve the communications between the school committee and the parents. I have been trying to organize these forums to get opportunities for engagement. If the parents don’t provide input, we will need to make our decisions on the information we have for the best of the whole. 
I’d like to look at the notifications about the head lice policy. I know it was changed before I got on the committee. I understand the HIPPA implications but I’d like another look to see what we can do to work within the guidelines. We have had a couple of years now with no notification, what effect has that had?I’d like to look at the bus fee. Some parents don’t need the bus all the time, every day. Some need a couple of days, or just in the afternoon. Is there something we can do? I’d like to take a look at it and have the conversation about it. 
The other perpetual challenge is with the budget. We have lost many positons over the years, we are losing administrators to other districts. There is a lot of turn over. Kevin O’Malley said it and to his credit; “We don’t want to be a training school for other districts just because we can’t afford to pay our people.” That’ll be something we’ll have to work with the Town Council on, because we don’t have enough money. We are spending less than other districts in everything. We are not just pinching pennies; we are squeezing the life out of them. 
One of the other problems we face is with No Child Left Behind and all the legalese around the children at the low end, nothing really is being done for those kids on the high end. How we do challenge them?

FM - What do you bring to the position that would set you apart from the other candidates?

Clement – I am very analytical by nature and by training. I try to look at a process from a different point of view. I understand there are some emotions involved but when you look at a problem without emotions controlling the conversation, we can reach a better solution. If I can be a facilitator, that would be good. 
I do pro bono activities for kids coming across the border and are facing deportation issues. I also do pro bono work for kids who are not getting their IEPs fulfilled. I am trying to work with the school district involved, if at all possible, to get them the help that they need. That is the experience I can bring to the table, that sort of ‘advocacy’. 
I want to cooperate and get along but at the same time, I am not afraid to make a decision. I like to think I am up for the challenges. I’ll do what I can.

If you have any follow up questions for Trevor, you can contact him via email at

You can also visit his webpage

Noteworthy: This information is intended to help the Franklin voters when we all head to the ballot box on November 3rd. The interview candidates have had an opportunity to review the text before publishing to ensure the accuracy of our discussion.

The collection of all the information to prepare for the Nov 3rd election can be found here

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