Franklin Matters (FM): Tell me a bit about yourself, your family, and your life here in Franklin? What is your Franklin story?
DS: My husband, Jim, and I moved to Franklin in 1999 with our son Connor when he was just a few months old. We had relocated to Massachusetts from NJ a few years prior, and were living in Canton. Once we had Connor, it was time to find a town to raise our children in, and Franklin had so much appeal – the history of the library and the quality of the schools being deciding factors for us!
With Connor now attending Mass Bay Community College (gulp, where did that time go?), it has been a fantastic place to raise our children and be part of an active and caring community. Prior to running for school committee, I was most active with the Franklin Democratic Town Committee, serving as vice-chair and chair.
FM: What experience or background will help you to serve in this role? What do you bring to the table that helps to set you apart from the others?
DS: Every candidate – past and present – has their own unique experiences and perspective that they bring to this role. I have a passion for public policy and governance – strongly believing in the strength of our democracy – perhaps now more than ever. With a lifelong commitment to social justice activism, several years chairing our democratic town committee, three year serving as an appointed Commissioner with the MetroWest Commission on the Status of Women, and the past six year of my career working in public higher education at UMass Boston, I have experience in public administration, running public meetings, and public budgeting and finance.
However, I find one of the most impactful experiences I bring to school committee is my experience as a parent of two children in the Franklin schools. My son went through Oak Street and Horace Mann, finishing at Tri-County, graduating this past June. I appreciate that his high school experience was still a public school education that was better suited to his interests and abilities. He is now a freshman at MassBay studying mechanical engineering. I am a huge advocate and supporter of public education.
My daughter started at ECDC – we have such fond memories of her time with Miss Chris – and is now in the Horace Mann complex. I had to advocate for my son with his particular learning abilities and that is a lens I bring to this position as well. It is hard to remove any of our life experiences from the way that we govern. I want to ensure that each and every student in the Franklin Public Schools – nearly 6,000 of them, as well as all of our teachers, administrators and support staff – have all the tools they need to succeed.
FM: What do you see as your role’s biggest challenge and do you have any suggestions on how we can resolve it?
After one term in office, even though this sounds cliché, it really does come down to the finances. We have had positive changes in the past two years – a wonderful new Superintendent that brings a fresh lens and perspective, thoughtful work on new policies that impact dress code and homework, and a strong commitment to improve communications and community relations. But all of that work is for naught if we start to lose teaching staff. With state revenue projections shrinking, rainy day funds being spent this fiscal year, and the unknown impact of multiple new housing complexes coming online, the reality is that we will have some tough choices to make on the budget in the next term for school committee.
I testified at the State House this summer in favor of a bill that would address the very out of date Foundation Budget formula that drives our public education funding across the state, and have taken on an advocacy role within the committee to ensure that we are doing all that we can to make sure local, state and federal officials are aware of the impact the budget constraints have on our schools in Franklin. Logically the next steps are working closely with the finance committee and the town council, and engaging the entire community in the conversation about our public school dollars and what shortfalls we might have in the near term and long term.
We do not want to be in a position that we are pitting our schools against our police and firefighters. The town as a whole needs more resources, and I feel that together we can work towards a solution that ensures we continue to build upon what we have, and make it better.
If you would like to follow up with Denise, her email is DeniseLynnSchultz@gmail.com
and her campaign Facebook can be found here -> https://www.facebook.com/
Offer to Candidates 2017
Noteworthy: This information is intended to help the Franklin voters when we all head to the ballot box on November 7. The interview candidates have had an opportunity to review the text before publishing to ensure the accuracy of our discussion.