Category Archives: In The News

Virginia “Ginny” Gardner Letter to the Editor Supporting Kathy Marchi

Kathy and Ginny Gardner

To the Editor:

Please join me in voting for Kathy Marchi for School Committee from Ward 1.  This is a city-wide election so all Newton voters can vote for Kathy.  Next year more than half of the School Committee will be new.  Kathy has a long track record of rolling up her sleeves and working in the trenches to help families gain access to affordable afterschool care, students with disabilities, and young people in an addiction or mental health crisis.

When I first met Kathy, I was immediately impressed with the breadth and depth of her experience throughout Newton, in our schools, and at a variety of nonprofit organizations dedicated to providing support for families and children.  Kathy is committed to working for underserved and disadvantaged students.  Her passion for and dedication to special education not only includes her personal experience as a parent in Newton, it also includes her professional experience as Director of Development for the Genesis Fund where she worked to support children with physical and intellectual disabilities.  As a School Committee member, she will keep focused on the district’s serious need for improved facilities for students who receive special education services outside of the traditional classroom.  These are among our most vulnerable learners and their classroom learning environment, along with breadth of programming, is critical to their success.

Kathy’s commitment to educating the whole child and supporting all learners shows in her priorities: maintaining social emotional learning, ensuring the district adopts full day kindergarten, and equitable and affordable afterschool care for all families. She has a proved track record of working for students and families in need and will be a great addition to the School Committee.

Please join me in voting for Kathy Marchi for School Committee from Ward 1.

Virginia “Ginny” Gardner

Marc Laredo Letter to the Editor Supporting Kathy Marchi

To the Editor:

I am writing to urge all Newton voters to join me in voting for Kathy Marchi for School Committee from Ward 1.  As the former chair of the School Committee and a current member of the City Council, I believe that Kathy will be an excellent addition to the School Committee.

Kathy knows our school system well.  As an employee of the Newton Public Schools, she served as the Director of The Newton Partnership, overseeing programs addressing the non-academic aspects of our students’ development, with a staff of nine and a million dollar annual budget. Kathy also was the Project Director on another federal grant, training community members to help young people experiencing mental health or addiction crises.  Kathy has a master’s degree from New York University in student personnel administration and has a personal role model for the job – her mother served on the School Committee in Kathy’s hometown of Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.

In addition to her professional skills, Kathy has an impressive history of community involvement both within the schools and in Newton, including serving as the president of the Newton North High School Tiger Athletic Booster Club, as the executive director of the Child Care Scholarship Fund, and on the board of the Centre Street Food Pantry.

I believe that Kathy will be able to work collaboratively and effectively with her colleagues on the School Committee.  Please vote for Kathy Marchi on November 7.

Marc Laredo
Councilor at-Large, Ward 7

High School Start Time Questionnaire

High School Start Time

2017 School Committee Candidate Questionnaire

 Kathy Marchi

Candidate for School Committee Ward 1

This questionnaire was designed by NewtonHighSchools.Com, which is a group of Newton parents who are concerned about high school start times and is unaffiliated with Newton Public Schools. All candidates’ answers will be made publicly available. 

  • Regarding your familiarity with adolescent sleep issues, please check as many of the following that apply.

____ I attended the School Committee Forum on High School Start Times at either Newton North or Newton South.

_X__  I have talked to medical researchers or physicians about the impact of high school start times on high school students’ health and well-being.

_X__ I have read peer-reviewed scientific research on the impact of high school start times on high school students’ health and well-being.

_X__ I have read news reports that cover peer-reviewed scientific research on the impact of high school start times on high school students’ health and well-being.

_X__ My adolescent’s sleep habits are consistent with the medical evidence.

____  None of the above.

Comments?

I fully support changing the start times at both high schools to 8:30am.  The science is indisputable and as a parent of 2 children who were actively involved in high school sports and many activities, I also understand the issue personally.

I am pleased that the School Committee voted to accept the recommendations of the Superintendent and the High School Start Time Working Group that the schedules at both high schools be adjusted so that a later start time could be implemented.  I was also happy to learn that in addition to a later start time, this schedule change will allow room in student schedules for much-needed breaks and opportunities to practice meditation and other de-stressing skills.

I am familiar with the American Pediatrics Association’s position on this issue, have read the Rand study on the upstream economic benefits to a later start time, and was happy to see the New York Times highlight the economic and personal benefits to later start time in an article just last month.

Professionally and personally, I have been devoted to supporting students and families in the areas of mental health and social-emotional learning.  I was the Director of The Newton Partnership which focused on the non-academic needs of students, provided program opportunities for youth as well as educational programs for parents/guardians and collaborated with more than 20 youth agencies and organizations in Newton. Additionally, I was a member of NewtonCares, a citywide coalition focused on mental health for all residents including students; I am a QPR, suicide prevention trainer; I was an advisor to the Youth Commission; and was a member of the Newton Public Schools Social-Emotional Learning Department where I oversaw the Youth Mental Health First Aid project and assisted in bringing SEL practices to afterschool programs and parents.

  • Please rank the following statements, where 1 is the highest priority and 8 is the lowest priority.

_3__   The NPS should make it a priority to start high school at 8:30 AM or later.

_2__   The NPS should make it a priority to start high school at 8:30 AM or later and the change should be implemented as soon as possible.

_4__   The NPS should make it a priority to foster more programs and curriculum that encourage diversity and encourage students to embrace diversity.

_7__   The NPS should make it a priority to foster more STEM programs.

_8__   The NPS should make it a priority to decrease class sizes.

_5__   The NPS should make it a priority to maintain class sizes.

_1__   The NPS should make it a priority to increase focus on Social Emotional Learning.

_6__   The NPS should make it a priority to more carefully monitor equity differences in the district.

Comments?

NPS should indeed make it a priority to start high school at 8:30am or later and the change should be implemented as soon as possible just as we must continue to prioritize our focus on Social Emotional Learning and mental health.  These priorities are deeply connected, with start time being a critical component of overall student well-being.

My experience, including the citywide partnerships I have developed, will serve me well on the School Committee as I believe that the issues impacting all of our students–adequate sleep, high levels of stress and anxiety, social-emotional learning—should be of concern to all in our community. In fact, I strongly believe that we must partner with the City to address this change as it is a city-wide health issue and is not the responsibility of the school system to fund alone.

  • Which of the following statements most closely describes your opinion? If you agree with more than one statement, rank the statements where 1 is the highest priority and 5 is the lowest priority.

____ The decision to start or not start high school later is complicated. The concerns of various parties must be considered and respected before a decision is made.

____ The School Committee has a role to encourage the NPS to act quickly on latter high school start times, even if it means some stakeholders might disagree.

____ The School Committee needs to provide their judgement and expertise to insure that the move to a later start time is not associated with embarrassing glitches such at sports game cancellations or bus scheduling snafus.

____ The School Committee needs to formally commit to start high school later as soon as possible. The details can be addressed later.

____ The School Committee should pursue a later high school time to the extent that budget considerations are met.

Comments?

I am running for School Committee because I believe passionately that we must do more to address the mental health and social-emotional needs of all of our students.  We have come a long way—and there is more to be done.  Specifically, on the issue of later high school start times, I want to ensure that the commitment the School Committee and School Department has made to change to an 8:30am start time will, in fact, occur. 

I also have experience managing budgets and will bring that expertise to all of my School Committee work.  This will be crucial as we face a variety of budgetary trade-offs going forward.

SEPAC, the Newton Special Education Parents Advisory Council, Questionnaire

Ward 1 School Committee

Parents have many concerns that reading services in the Newton Public Schools for students with dyslexia are not state of the art. What will you do to improve programs for dyslexia?

 Kathy Marchi: As a member of the school committee, it would be within my role to ensure that our SPED Department has the resources and expertise to provide the most effective programs to meet our students’ needs. We have come a long way but we still have work to do in this area. It is crucial that we increase our teachers’ understanding of dyslexia and increase their skills in supporting students who have dyslexia. I would work to support efforts to improve our programs for dyslexia as well as other special needs.

Please comment on whether you would support hiring a special education ombudsman for NPS. This position would offer families a way to resolve conflicts in a non-confrontational manner, and would create an equitable situation to families who cannot afford to hire advocates or attorneys. Please also comment on whether you support a member of the SEPAC having a seat at the table during School Committee meetings, similar to the Student Representatives.

 Kathy Marchi: I believe in the importance of the SEPAC as a valuable forum for family engagement and support, and as a source of collaboration with the school system. As a parent of a child who benefited from additional supports and assistance, I personally understand the passion parents have regarding their child(ren)’s education. The relationship between NPS and our families should be one of partnership and collaboration. Whenever possible, special education services should be addressed at the school building level and with the Assistant Supt. for Student Services, rising only to the school committee when an ongoing issue is unresolved. I am pleased that our special education services, programs, and facilities have recently been reviewed and I look forward to working with the department on the findings. Student representatives are state-mandated and are ex- officio, with no voting rights.

Many candidates speak about transparency and clear communication. Please comment on whether you would consider any of the following: Holding monthly office hours where the community can bring you their concerns, allocating funds for a School Committee blog so that families know what is being worked on, what topics are coming up, how and when input would be accepted, and meeting with special education parents to hear feedback on what programs are working well and what still needs improvement.

 Kathy Marchi: The School Committee values the input of the SEPAC and assigns a representative to the SEPAC in order for communication to be expedited, interactive, personal and accurate. I believe this is an important opportunity for a school committee member and that the relationship between the two committees is very important. As a school committee member I would welcome outreach from families regarding their concerns. I would be available and responsive to calls and emails as well as face-to-face conversations. As the MA DESE guidance on SEPACs recommends, I would like to see the SEPAC work with the school system by providing data gathered from Newton families to better understand their needs. SEPAC can be a valuable resource to the School Committee by spotting trends or ongoing issues.

The City of Newton is planning to increase the housing stock and is including several projects of high density units. The existing school buildings, including new schools, are designed to meet the current student growth trends, but do not address a large influx of students that will accompany the future high density buildings. Both high schools are at their largest student population ever, class sizes are increasing, and no new staff was added due to the budget shortage. There is no additional capacity at the middle schools. Do you have a plan on how to expand school capacity, and where will the funding come from? How will these huge expenses impact special education funding?

 Kathy Marchi: As a leading school district in MA, Newton will continue to face the challenge of a growing student population. It is our legal, moral and ethical responsibility to provide every student in our district with an education that graduates them college- and career-ready. I will work with the Mayor, City Council and School Committee to determine how to enhance city revenues, to maintain the financial allocation needed to achieve school excellence, and to find efficiencies and savings within our school budget. While our committee doesn’t vote for an override, I will support one if it becomes clear that these various efforts are insufficient to prevent the erosion of the education we provide for all of our students. Also, Newton must keep advancing our capital improvement plan to ensure that school facilities continue to be upgraded for both regular and special education students.

As a candidate, what do you believe about inclusion in the public schools? Do you think there may be a trade off from full inclusion? Do you support total inclusion, or do you believe there are some situations where segregated groupings of special education students with specialized instruction might be appropriate?

Kathy Marchi: We are required by federal law to support all students in the least restrictive environment possible while providing the same standard of education as for typically developing students. Full inclusion achieves this for many but not all Newton students. Where it is more suited to a student’s individual need, substantially separate instruction should be considered. Our Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent for Student Services are studying our service models and I am committed to working with them and my school committee colleagues to find the optimal range of constructs for Newton students.

 

Newton League of Women Voters Questionnaire

League of Women Voters

2017 Candidate Questionnaire

 Do you support the proposed new City Charter? Why or why not?

I applaud the Charter Commission members, many of whom I know personally and respect. As a School Committee candidate, listening in hundreds of conversations, 2 things are clear to me: 1.

Newton voters are educated and informed, and will make choices based on their understanding of what is best both immediately and in the long term 2. School Committee representation is by Ward, elected at large. As a School Committee member, my firm commitment is to represent all students regardless of Ward.

Do you support privatizing any part of school operations? Why or why not?

Before even considering it, I would want evidence that outsourcing would result in significant and meaningful benefits for the district, including but not limited to financial benefits.  Then the School Committee would need to consider all of the issues and determine what is in the best interests of the entire school system.  As a candidate, I have not seen any confidential information on the topic. No option should or would ever be considered that would put our children at risk for safety.

If you were to write a school transportation policy, what would be your key components?

Our school transportation policy should be a collaborative effort between the school system, local organizations and city agencies, supporting families in finding multiple safe routes to and from school. Encouraging kids to walk or bike to school for the physical and emotional health benefits including brain activation and reducing stress is highly important. My experience collaborating with agencies and organizations in Newton would allow me to be an effective leader in this effort.

 

Newtoon Teachers Association Questionnaire

10/10 School Committee Candidates Questionnaire, 2017

 Dear Candidate:

As President of the Newton Teachers Association, I am requesting that you answer the following questions. After reviewing your responses to these questions, the NTA Executive Committee may make candidate endorsements in some of the races. Be aware that we may share your responses with our members.

I am requesting that you return the completed questionnaire by Tuesday, October 10th.

Thank you for your consideration.

Michael Zilles


Name: Kathy Marchi
Ward: 1

  1. Tell us about your background and why you are running for School Committee.

In 2006 my family moved to Newton so our children could benefit from our outstanding school system. Katja started the 7th grade at F.A. Day Middle School and graduated from Newton North High School in 2012. Dylan started at Lincoln-Eliot Elementary School, went on to Bigelow Middle School and graduated from Newton North in 2015. My husband Chris and I are very grateful for the teachers and staff who ensure that both kids received an outstanding education.

  1. How do you understand your role as a member of the School Committee? What does the School Committee contribute to running the Newton Public Schools?

The primary responsibilities of the School Committee are to select and terminate the superintendent, review and approve budgets for the public school system, and establish educational goals and policies for the district consistent with laws and statewide goals. The role of a School Committee member is to uphold these responsibilities as an informed, committed and collaborative partner along with one’s colleagues. I believe it is also my responsibility to be a champion of our district, our administration, teachers, staff, and students.

The NPS School Committee contributes to the running of our schools by setting priorities and establishing values for our Superintendent, teachers and staff in the form of system wide goals and overall support. The School Committee should have confidence in the leadership of our system while bringing the voice of students and families into ongoing collaboration.

When I worked for the Newton Public School system (I was an NTA member), I presented reports and updates to the School Committee and appreciated their informed questions and suggestions. I pledge to be informed, committed, and collaborative in this role. 

  1. What do see as the strengths of the Newton Public Schools?

The greatest strength of the Newton Public School system is the teaching staff. As a parent whose children experienced very different paths in school, I am deeply grateful for the many teachers and specialists who guided, supported and challenged each of our kids to reach their individual potentials.

In my role as Director of The Newton Partnership, I had the pleasure of working with many of our teachers and am honored to have been a member of the NTA. As a School Committee member I will continue to collaborate and build on the relationships and knowledge I have gained from my volunteer and professional work including 4 years as an employee of the NPS.

  1. What are your concerns? What do you think needs to change?

I have several key priorities.

First, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Cultural Competency:  Newton is a leader in SEL across Massachusetts, and SEL skills are the foundation for the academic, social and emotional success of all students. They are also central to many of my professional and community experiences.

Second, Full-Day Kindergarten and after-school opportunities for all students: When I worked for The Newton Partnership, I developed out-of-school programs to help children across Newton.  Research shows that Full-Day Kindergarten and access to after school programs help to close the achievement gap and play an important role in achieving SEL goals for students.

Third, strong fiscal oversight: We must make thoughtful decisions around trade-offs to continue to build a top-quality school system. Funding for lower class size, SEL, and our early education supports is critical and can only happen if we are effective in building a financially responsible budget. At the same time, we must ensure that our teachers and all staff are appropriately compensated, as acknowledgement of their critical role and so that we can continue to have a committed and enthusiastic group of educators teaching our children.

My kids had a tremendous experience in the Newton schools.  I want to ensure that others do too, regardless of their needs, challenges or income level.

  1. Why are you qualified to serve on the School Committee?

I have spent most of my personal and professional life working to help young people and families in need.  I was Director of The Newton Partnership, a community organization that worked with other community groups to coordinate programs and services for Newton’s youth and families.  We also created non-school based programs that provided real and meaningful opportunities for our children, often those with limited resources.

I was previously a Federal Grant Project Director for NPS, providing support to our youth experiencing mental health or addiction crises.  I was the Community Liaison in the Social and Emotional Learning Department and expanded the training of parents/guardians and after-school staff in Responsive Classroom practices.  These experiences gave me a wonderful insight into how to work effectively with our school system and other organizations to prioritize our students, and lead programs and services that could make a real difference in their lives.

My volunteer commitments have also given me a special window into the challenges facing many in our community, and I have learned that we can make a difference if we focus on the right programs and services.  I am on the Board of Directors of the Centre Street Food Pantry, was a QPR Suicide Prevention Trainer, a teen mentor, and President of the Newton North High School Tiger Athletic Booster Club.  These different opportunities remain central to who I am as a person, to my values and priorities in life, and to my commitment to work for all members of our community regardless of their needs or challenges.

I will continue to work for these values on the School Committee because I believe that the chances for every child’s success are significantly enhanced when families, schools, organizations, and agencies work together.  I am running for School Committee because I want to utilize the skills and experience I have in Newton to help make Newton Public Schools even better than they are today.

  1. What is your position on outsourcing the work of the Newton school custodians?

I am not privy to the confidential information that the School Committee has reviewed.  Any conversation about outsourcing must begin with an overwhelming problem that can only be addressed with outsourcing. That problem may be financial (I am told that we are facing a very serious budget squeeze) and it may also be related to the experiences of our students and staff. I do not know if a compelling case has been made, but I would not want to proceed in the conversation if one cannot be made. Any decision like this has a human toll that does not necessarily show on financial statements and that too must be considered.

  1. What is your position on health insurance coverage for NPS employees?

We must continue to offer comprehensive and affordable health insurance for NPS employees, and I look forward to making that a priority for the next contract negotiation. When I worked for NPS, my family utilized the health insurance coverage available to us under my employment and for this we were very grateful for the coverage.

  1. What would you do to close the funding gap the Newton Public Schools anticipates in FY18?

I will work with the Mayor, City Council and School Committee to determine how to enhance city revenues, to maintain the financial allocation needed to achieve school excellence, and to find efficiencies and savings within our school budget.

We also need to continue to move forward with the city capital improvement plan to ensure that our school facilities continue to be upgraded for both regular and special education students. I will also consider supporting opportunities to increase revenue, including an override, if necessary to rebuild our buildings and if various efforts are not sufficient to prevent the erosion of the education we provide for all of our students.  I do not take the request of an override lightly as I am well aware—given my professional and volunteer experiences in Newton–that many in our community have opposed overrides and could face financial hardships due to an override.  As a result, an override should be a last resort whether it is for capital or operating budget needs.

  1. We are in the last year of a three-year contract between the Newton Public Schools and the Newton School Committee. If you were on the Negotiations Team for the Newton School Committee, what would your priorities be in these negotiations?

As a former member of the Newton Teachers Association, I bring a particular perspective and set of experiences to this issue.  My approach to collective bargaining is to find win-win strategies so that all parties can be satisfied with an agreement. I support ensuring that our employees are well paid, well-trained and treated with dignity and respect. I support the collective bargaining rights of our unions.

  1. If there is anything else you consider pertinent to your candidacy that you would like to share, please feel free to do so.

More than half of next year’s School Committee will be new.  New school committee members need to have experience with both the public schools and with Newton.

I have worked for the Newton public schools and have been a member of the Newton Teachers Association. I have worked with both teachers and parents – on many projects, including training to help a young person in a mental health or addiction crisis, and in responsive classroom/home practices. I know Newton; I have experienced the Newton schools as a parent, as a staff member and as an administrator. 

Newton teachers and staff were great to my kids.  I want other parents and students to have the same support from the Newton schools that my family and my kids did.

 

Marchi: Facing today’s challenges

I am excited to be running for the School Committee, and I ask for your vote on Nov. 7. I believe my commitment and experience will enable me to be an effective member from the first day I take office, something especially important on the next School Committee when more than half of the new members will be new. I will represent all of Newton and be an independent voice on the School Committee.

My family moved to Newton so that our children could benefit from our outstanding school system. Our two children attended Lincoln-Eliot Elementary School, Bigelow and Day Middle Schools, and Newton North High School.

Our two kids followed very different paths through the school system and we deeply appreciate the work by the teachers and staff who approached each child in a manner that was best for them. Their different experiences have given me a very personal and meaningful perspective on what it means to make a commitment to educate the whole child, to focus on both academics and social and emotional learning, and to provide both traditional and non-traditional paths for our children.

I have spent most of my personal and professional life working to help young people and families in need. I was director of the Newton Partnership, a community organization that worked with other community groups to coordinate programs and services for Newton’s youths and families. We also created non-school based programs for that provided real and meaningful opportunities for our children, often those with limited resources.

I was previously the Federal Grant Project director for our schools, providing support to our youth experiencing mental health or addiction crises. I was the community liaison in the Social and Emotional Learning Department and expanded the training of school staff in Responsive Classroom practices. These experiences gave me a wonderful insight into how to work effectively with other organizations to prioritize our students in need, and then to lead programs and services that could make a real difference in their lives.

My volunteer commitments have also given me a special window into the challenges facing many in our community, and how we can make a difference if we focus on the right programs and services. I am on the board of the Centre Street Food Pantry, was a QPR Suicide Prevention trainer, a teen mentor and president of the Newton North High School Tiger Athletic Booster Club. These different opportunities remain central to who I am as a person, my values and priorities in life, and my commitment to work for all members of our community regardless of their needs or challenges.

I will continue to work for these values on the School Committee because I believe that the chances for every child’s success are significantly enhanced when families, schools, organizations and agencies work together. I am running for School Committee because I want to utilize the skills and experience I have in Newton to help make Newton Public Schools even better than they are today. I have several key priorities.

First, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Cultural Competency: Newton is a leader in SEL across Massachusetts, and SEL skills are the foundation for the academic, social and emotional success of all students. They are also central to many of my professional and community experiences.

Second, Full-Day Kindergarten and after-school opportunities for all students: When I worked for the Newton Partnership, I developed out-of-school programs to help children across Newton. Research shows that Full-Day Kindergarten and access to after school programs helps to close the achievement gap and play an important role in achieving SEL goals for students.

My kids had a tremendous experience in the Newton schools. I want to ensure that others do too, regardless of their needs, challenges, and income level.

I ask for your vote for on Tuesday, Nov. 7 for the School Committee member from Ward 1 (all Newton can vote). Please visit my website, kathymarchi.com for more information.

Posted in Newton Tab, October 6, 2017

Progressive Newton’s Candidates Questionnaires 2017

Progressive Newton 2017 Municipal Candidates’ Questionnaire

Kathy Marchi, Candidate for School Committee Ward 1

  1. How will you approach collective bargaining with public unions and how will you weigh the value of well paid, skilled union labor against potential cost savings from outsourcing?

As a former member of the Newton Teachers Association (NTA), I bring a unique perspective to this issue.  My approach to collective bargaining is to find win-win strategies so that all parties can be satisfied with an agreement. I support ensuring that our employees are well paid, well-trained and treated with dignity and respect. I support the collective bargaining rights of our unions.

  1. What value do you place on increasing affordable housing in Newton, and what concrete steps will you take to expand affordable housing?

I strongly support increasing affordable housing in Newton. The School Committee does not have an opportunity to take concrete steps to expand affordable housing.  I have worked to support at-risk families in need of financial assistance with childcare expenses, I worked to provide access for Newton Youth to free out-of-school time physical fitness opportunities and I have worked to ensure that families in our community have access to food when they need it. I will work to give economically challenged students the greatest opportunity to thrive in our public schools.

For example, I will work to expand Newton Early Childhood Program so that students are prepared when they start kindergarten. I support full-day kindergarten because it helps level the playing field and gives students who may not have had pre-school opportunities a chance to develop social emotional skills that research shows helps them achieve their academic potential.

I support programs like the Calculus Project which is designed to close the achievement gap by improving math problem solving skills in African American, Hispanic, and low income students.

I strongly support the after-school programs that provide critical assistance to single parent families and families with two working parents.  I support expanding access to the valuable after school enrichment programs. I support a more robust partnership between the Newton Public Schools and our independent after school programs.

  1. Do you support the welcoming city ordinance? What other steps will you take to make our city welcoming to all, regardless of race, class, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other discrete characteristics?

Well before the welcoming city ordinance emerged, Newton schools have worked to welcome all students regardless of race, class, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other discrete characteristics. I strongly support this effort. I have worked for an organization that supports children who are born with physical and mental disabilities and genetic disorders and recognize the unique challenges students face when they perceive themselves as being “different.”  I am pleased that the School Committee through its yearlong policy revision process has reaffirmed our welcome policy, as it is right and it is part of what makes our system so special.

  1. What concrete steps will you take to combat global climate change, increase renewable energy, and decrease energy consumption in Newton?

As a School Committee member, I will work with NPS to find ways to decrease the system’s carbon footprint by decreasing energy consumption and using renewable energy whenever possible.  I strongly support the School Committee’s efforts to increase energy conservation in new and renovated buildings through more energy efficient windows, boilers, and heating and ventilation systems, and I want these successes to be teachable moments for all of us.

  1. What does Black Lives Matter mean to you?

I support many of the guiding principles of Black Lives Matter and will work to ensure that our schools are a welcoming and supportive system for all students.  As a School Committee member, I am looking forward to broadening the scope of Courageous Conversations About Race which the district began a few years ago. Courage Conversations About Race is a program that challenges participants to examine their unconscious biases. Families, administrators and educators will all benefit from expanding the reach of this important curriculum through a continuation of the trainings and workshops.  I will also support the development and growth of the student led anti-bias curriculum at both high schools.

  1. Would you support a zero-tolerance policy for discriminatory language by city employees?

City employees should not use discriminatory language and I support a strong and unambiguous policy regarding language by school employees. While working for the Newton Public Schools, I supported the training of 250 community members to help young people in a mental health or addiction crisis.  I fully support training all personnel to speak and behave appropriately and to not use discriminatory language. I am pleased that the School Committee through its yearlong policy revision process reaffirmed its anti-discriminatory and anti-bias policies for both employees and students.

  1. What concrete steps will you take to address income inequality in Newton?

Newton is an economically diverse city. Newton has four schools that receive Title I funds. Title I provides financial assistance to schools with high numbers or a high percentage of children from low income families to ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.

The School Committee sees the effects of income inequality in the level of preparedness with which students come to school and it is the school system’s responsibility to provide equal access to resources to all students.  As I mentioned above, I have worked to support at-risk families in need of financial assistance with childcare expenses and I will work to expand Newton Early Childhood Program; I support full-day kindergarten; I support programs like the Calculus Project; and I strongly support expanding access to our valuable after school enrichment programs.

  1. Under what circumstances would you support an override?

I will work with the Mayor, City Council and School Committee to determine how to enhance city revenues, to maintain the financial allocation needed to achieve school excellence, and to find efficiencies and savings within our school budget.   While the School Committee does not vote for an override, I will consider supporting one if it becomes clear that these various efforts are not sufficient to prevent the erosion of the education we provide for all of our students.    We also need to continue to move forward with the city capital improvement plan to ensure that our school facilities continue to be upgraded for both regular and special education students. I do not take the request of an override lightly as I am well aware that many in our community have opposed overrides and could face financial hardships with an override. An override must be premised on needs and not wants.

  1. What steps would you take to assist seniors, millennials, and others who might be cost-burdened? HUD defines cost-burdened as paying more than 30% of their income for housing.

I support property tax accommodations for seniors, millennials and others who are cost burdened.  The long term solution is to provide Newton students with an outstanding education, enabling them to achieve their potential and earn salaries so that they are not cost-burdened.

  1. How would you improve access to transportation? What do you see as Newton’s role in advocating for expanded transportation?

I strongly support neighborhood schools and will work to develop policies that encourage families and students to walk, bike, bus, and carpool to our schools. It has been estimated that up to 40% of Newton city traffic is associated with getting our students to and from school, and we must work hard to increase options beyond the one-student-per-car that is so common today.  Reducing this type of traffic will make transportation more efficient for all citizens and can be both an economic and quality-of-life enhancement.

I am pleased that the School Committee and NPS are creating a transportation working group this fall to develop citywide transportation policy in conjunction with our municipal departments.

  1. What do you believe the role is of local elected leaders in promoting progressive policies at the state and national level?

Each School Committee Member should advocate strongly for state and national education policies.  As a School Committee member, I will work to ensure that we work closely with our state legislative delegation.

I will advocate for S223, an Act Modernizing the Foundation Budget for the 21st Century.  This bill will update the calculation of local aid for education to school districts by changing the formula to address inaccurate assumptions in the original formula.  The original formula dramatically underestimated the costs of closing the achievement gap for low income and ELL learners.  In addition the health care and special education cost assumptions are inaccurately low.  This bill will correct these deficiencies.

  1. Why are people poor?

My experience has led me to believe that there are almost as many reasons that people are poor as there are poor people.  My work with the Centre Street Food Pantry, my experience working for families fighting cancer and struggling financially, and my experience working to support families with children with physical and mental disabilities has shown me that there are many factors that can cause people to be poor.  Each person and each family has their own unique story. The Newton Public Schools must continue to meet all students where they are and provide each with the social-emotional, mental health and academic support that each needs.  This will help them reach their potential as learners and empower them to be contributing members of our community and beyond into adulthood.

YES/NO (Massachusetts state legislature bill numbers follow in parentheses, where applicable):

  1. Do you support or oppose a $15/hour minimum wage? (S1004 / H2365)

I support a $15/hour minimum wage and S1004/H2365

  1. Do you support or oppose paid family medical leave? (S1048 / H2172)

I support paid family medical leave.  My experience working for an organization that helped families who were fighting cancer and thus struggling financially showed me the importance of paid family medical leave and what a difference it could make.

  1. Do you support or oppose the 2018 ballot question to place a 4% increased tax rate on taxable income over a million dollars per year?

I support the ballot question.

  1. Do you support or oppose the 2018 ballot question to roll back protections for transgender individuals in public accommodations?

I have taken the pledge to protect full transgender equality in Massachusetts and I oppose this ballot question.

I stand with the Patriots, Bruins, Red Sox, Celtics and more than 100 businesses in opposing the ballot question.

  1. Do you support the safe communities act? (S1305 / H3269)

I support the safe communities act.

  1. Do you support the great neighborhoods bill? (S81)

I support this bill.

  1. Do you believe Newton has met its obligation to provide affordable housing under MGL Chapter 40B?

I am not well-versed in the specific thresholds that Newton must hit under Chapter 40B, but I believe we have a moral obligation to provide more affordable housing in Newton so that we have adequate housing for people across the economic spectrum.

See all the Progressive Newton Candidate Questionnaires.

 

Marchi: Inquisitive, caring, pragmatic, direct and focused

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It is an honor to be on the ballot in hopes of serving each of you in elected office!

I am running for the Ward 1 School Committee seat because I have the commitment, experience and perspective to be an effective School Committee member and to help make Newton schools even better than they are today.  My years living Newton as an NPS parent, combined with my professional experience at The Newton Partnership and with social-emotional learning (SEL) programs, give me the ability to focus on some of our key priorities while working collaboratively with my colleagues on the School Committee to move forward.

I think of myself as inquisitive, caring, pragmatic, direct, and focused.  I seek to listen and learn before weighing in.  I value the opinions and insights of others.  I recognize that in a large and complex school system that teaches students with a very wide range of needs, our job is to make often-difficult trade-offs in the most thoughtful, sensitive, effective, and compassionate manner.  An effective School Committee member must be comfortable making decisions involving difficult trade-offs, and I am eager and prepared to take this on.

This approach and these insights are what I have learned over years as a collaborator in my professional work, and as a leader, board member, and activist in many volunteer settings in Newton and beyond.

My key priorities are relevant in ensuring that every Newton student has the best chance for success:

  • Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Cultural Competency – Newton is a leader in SEL across Massachusetts. SEL skills are the foundation for the academic, social and emotional success of all students. The short- and long-term benefits are well-established.  In addition, we are a diverse city so program growth around cultural competency is vital.  I believe that the combination of these two aspects is where educational innovation is heading and I want to help Newton continue to lead the way.
  • Full Day Kindergarten & After-School Opportunities for All Students – I support shifting our kindergarten model to a full day program. Early education including pre-school programs, as well as access to high quality after-school programs for every student, help prepare our students for the upcoming challenges of school and life.
  • Fiscal Oversight – In this era of budget constraints we must make thoughtful and often difficult decisions around trade-offs to continue to build a top-quality school system even when we have financial constraints. Funding for lower class size, SEL and our early education supports is critical.

11 years ago my family did what many of you did — we came to Newton so that our children could grow up within this outstanding school system. Our daughter and son each have very different needs and learning styles, and each received an excellent education.  We have called Lincoln-Eliot Elementary, Bigelow and Day Middle Schools, and Newton North High School our homes.  We are so grateful for the community and support we’ve experienced, and my hope is that as a School Committee member I will help pay forward what we’ve received.

I graduated from New York University with a Master’s degree in Student Personnel Administration, and Allegheny College with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.  Most recently I worked in the Newton Public Schools’ SEL Department, where I engaged Newton residents and youth agency staff in social-emotional learning skills and trained community members in Youth Mental Health First Aid.  I’ve also been the Director of The Newton Partnership, a grant funded collaboration providing health, fitness and support programs to Newton youth and their families.  I am currently the Director of Alumni Relations at the Sloan School of Business at MIT.

My skill set has allowed me to be effective in a host of Newton volunteer positions:

  • Chair, Newton Cares Youth Sub-Committee
  • Adult Advisor, Newton Youth Commission
  • Director, Newton Child Care Scholarship Fund
  • Board Member, Centre Street Food Pantry
  • Community Trainer, QPR: suicide prevention
  • President, Newton North’s Tiger Booster Club
  • Co-Chair, Day at Night Auction
  • Chair, Touch a Truck Event
  • Active PTO, school and community volunteer

My professional and volunteer experience interweaves broad leadership and policy positions with the warmth of engaging individually with others.  Now I am ready to serve Newton students in the next obvious role, as your School Committee member from Ward 1.  I would be grateful for your vote on November 7th.   School Committee members are elected at-large so all Newton Voters can vote.

It will be great to hear from you!

Please call me at 917-922-6516

Email me at kmarchi4schoolcommittee@gmail.com

Connect with me on Facebook at Kathy Marchi for School Committee

With respect and thanks,

Kathy

Read more: Marchi: Inquisitive, caring, pragmatic, direct and focused | Village 14 http://village14.com/2017/07/31/marchi-inquisitive-caring-pragmatic-direct-and-focused/#ixzz4p03Gyb73
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Kathy Marchi announces run for Ward 1 School Committee

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I am excited to tell you that I am running for the Newton School Committee from Ward 1!  This seat is currently held by Ellen Gibson, who is not seeking reelection.  All School Committee seats are at-large so my name will appear on your ballot regardless of where you live in Newton.

Please connect with me on Facebook, Kathy Marchi for School Committee, to follow my campaign! You can also reach me at 917-922-6516 and kmarchi4schoolcommittee@gmail.com. I would love to hear your questions, concerns, and suggestions about our schools, and I hope to win your support and vote on November 7th.

Eleven years ago, my family moved to Newton so that our children would have the benefit of our outstanding school system. Our daughter and son each have very different learning styles and both received an excellent education in which their individual learning needs were met.  We are grateful for the solid foundation and strong community engagement our family experienced in Newton Public Schools.

Our family has been actively involved in each school our children attended: Lincoln-Eliot Elementary, Bigelow and Day Middle Schools, and Newton North High School. I Co-Chaired the Day at Night Auction, served as  President of North’s Tiger Booster Club and volunteered for many events in the schools as well as the community.

Three areas I plan to prioritize include:

  • Social Emotional Learning and Cultural Competencies  – Newton has established itself as an SEL leader within the Commonwealth. I look forward to building on this excellent work by expanding it into both high schools and to families.  I also want to incorporate cultural competencies work so that all students feel safe, supported, and can reach their highest potential.
  • Full Day Kindergarten & After-School Opportunities for All Students – I support shifting our kindergarten model to a full day program. Early education including pre-school programs, as well as access to after-school programs for every student, are key concerns.
  • Fiscal Oversight– We face financial challenges in the coming years and we must make the right trade-offs in school department budgets. I will focus on preserving class size and guaranteeing funding for the district’s SEL Department.

My professional, educational, and additional volunteer experiences include:

  • Former Director of The Newton Partnership and experienced senior leader in nonprofit and corporate sectors
  • Chair, Newton Cares Youth Sub-Committee; Adult Advisor, Newton Youth Commission; QPR Community Trainer; Touch a Truck Event Chair
  • Engaged Newton residents in social-emotional learning skills and trained community members in Youth Mental Health First Aid as member of Newton Public Schools’ SEL Department
  • Newton Child Care Scholarship Fund Director
  • Centre Street Food Pantry Board Member
  • Master’s degree in Student Personnel Administration from New York University and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Allegheny College.

I look forward to connecting with you!

Thank you,

Kathy

Read more: Kathy Marchi announces run for Ward 1 School Committee | Village 14 http://village14.com/2017/07/13/kathy-marchi-announces-run-for-ward-1-school-committee/#ixzz4p06l3S9K
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