Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Franklin Candidate Interview: Denise Spencer

This interview with Denise Spencer, candidate for Franklin School Committee in 2019, was collaborated on via email. We reviewed the following questions, some of them were ‘crowd sourced.’ Some of you may remember the call for input solicited in August 2019 for this election. Thank you for your contributions.

Hopefully, the information provided here, and in the other interviews, will enable the Franklin voters to make a good choice among the candidates for each position.

For the following FM presents the question. DS represents Denise’s response.
FM = There are and have been many opportunities to volunteer with community groups in Franklin. Have you taken advantage of any of these? Which ones, and why did you choose that/those?
DS = Since moving to Franklin in 2017, I have been very active within the school system by serving on the PCC and volunteering my time for school events and fundraisers. I recently attended the Franklin Civics Forum “How Your Town Government Works” and learned about all the other wonderful opportunities the town has to offer and I look forward to giving back in as many ways possible.
FM = Where do you get your news about Franklin?
DS = Franklin Matters of course! I also follow many town-centric Facebook pages such as Town of Franklin MA and Franklin Public School District MA. Also, I recently signed up to receive newsletters from the Town – another useful tidbit I picked up at the Civics Forum – and I also follow you, Steve, on Twitter and scroll through your posts and retweets.

FM = The possibility of a change in school start times was a recent controversial topic taken up by the School Committee. Where do you stand on the issue of school start times in Franklin and what actions do you plan to take around this issue during the next term of the School Committee?
DS = At the last School Committee meeting, it was decided that this issue be put on hold as there are other major issues requiring immediate attention (such as the budget and the school closing study). The current School Committee has done an excellent job on researching the science behind delaying school start times in adolescents. Schools in surrounding towns that have a later high school start time still have the younger children getting out of school after the older children. 

It is difficult to squeeze academic schedules, sports events and extra-curricular activities into available daytime hours if schools started later. There are clearly some benefits to a later starting time. There are also many challenges that families, teens, and school districts would face when deciding to pursue this idea. Much more research is needed in terms of looking at the impact of delaying school start times and how this will affect childcare options for working families and after school activities.

FM = While the current School Committee has attempted to reach the community through various forms of communication including coffee chats, email newsletters, attending events such as the farmers market, etc., they have been generally unsuccessful at increasing the engagement with important issues related to the schools. What actions will you take to increase citizen engagement with the School Committee?
DS = The current School Committee members have done a great job improving communication with the community. (Side note: Did you know they have a newsletter? You can sign up to be on their distribution list.) A lot of people love the idea of being connected virtually – we should look at more of a social media presence. Some families may be able to attend the coffee chats; however, weekends are usually very busy, parents and children have very hectic schedules. We need to cater to everyone on both ends of the spectrum.

FM = The Town Administrator has suggested that the School Committee investigate the possibility of closing Davis Thayer Elementary as a possible cost-saving mechanism for the town in these tight economic times. Where do you stand on this issue and what actions will you take to support your stance?
DS = This is a good question - I support a comprehensive study of our current and future enrollment needs for facilities prior to any discussion about school closure. It is imperative to gather and review all information before making any kind of decision. This means future enrollment projections, cost savings, the impact it would have on classroom sizes at other schools, redistricting of the town, and the reallocation of assets, teachers and staff. If elected, I promise to evaluate all pertinent information and reach a consensus of what would be best for the entire community.

FM = Why should I vote for you?
DS = In addition to my professional background, which includes 12 years working in the financial industry, I am an active parent and member of the community. I want to be a part of decisions that are made for our school system’s future. Young families need a strong voice in the decision making that will affect our town for generations to come. I want to apply my passion to advocate for all of Franklin’s students, families and educators. I would like the opportunity to serve and be a part of the continuous success of our school system.

Find the election and candidate information gathered in one place on the Election Collection

Franklin Candidate Interview: Denise Spencer
Franklin Candidate Interview: Denise Spencer

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