Support Our Schools asked this year’s candidates for school committee and Hamilton and Wenham select boards to respond to the question, “If elected, in what specific ways do you plan to support the Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District?” Other than keeping responses to 300 words, their statements have not been edited.

Polls are open this Thursday, April 11 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can vote absentee up until noon on Wednesday at the town clerk’s office.

CANDIDATES FOR SCHOOL COMMITTEE [VOTE FOR THREE]

Jeanise Bertrand:
There is no substitute for a good education. It is a door-opener, an opportunity creator, and a whole-person maker. Our job as school committee members is to prepare students to be active, successful and productive in all of their future endeavors. I’ve seen what we can do as a people if we are determined. Now it’s time to start thinking about how we educate students for the next great leap forward. Students from Hamilton and Wenham need to be ready and I know I can be a positive part of the way we get there.

My philosophy is that we are only as interesting as we are diverse, only as colorful as we are different. We are only as good as we allow ourselves us to be. Accountability means defining and demanding excellence at all levels—teachers, students and system administrators. Courage means facing the future boldly, even if it’s unknown.

My agenda: Stabilization fund for large maintenance projects; better communication to the entire community from retired seniors to students; top to bottom review of all school accounts in order to maximize buying efficiencies; restore the community’s trust; community-endorsed educational goals; technology that supports education and doesn’t supersede it; complete overhaul of the teaching of foreign languages in all schools.

Richard Boroff:
If elected to the school committee I would support the district by working to understand the issues before us, to ask a lot of questions, and to engage with others of the school committee and the community in the discussion of the issues. I would collaborate with the town leaders to get their opinion on the issues and to express mine.

I would support the superintendent by discussing issues and problems with him and, as appropriate, conveying information to and from members of the community. I would ask questions of him to better understand the needs of the district and to move the district forward.

Some of the major issues facing the district are user fees, condition of the buildings, 21st Century learning, foreign language and the cost of education. I would work on and support all discussions in these and other areas. A lot of work has been done on some of these issues in the past year, and I would work to continue it. I am retired so I have plenty of time to devote to the work of being on the school committee.

I am passionate about education and value a high standard of educational excellence. Please vote for me in the coming election. Thank you.

Deborah Evans:
My core belief is that education is a community value that deeply impacts all townspeople.  While most critical to our children, the quality of the education we provide affects our whole community. I believe HWRSD must explore innovation and enhance quality while achieving efficiency and containing cost.

As a Hamilton Wenham community resident for nearly 25 years, I have been actively involved in both the towns and schools. I have served on the Wenham Finance Committee, Joint Budget Process Committee, HW Edfund (past President), Friend of Buker School (past President), HWYSA, and First Church in Wenham Trustees. My community involvement provides a solid foundation from which to serve our community as a member of the Hamilton Wenham Regional School Committee.

I believe my background and community involvement will serve our towns well and ask for your support at the polls on April 11th. Thank you.

Melissa Even Moore:
Hello, my name is Melissa Even Moore. I am a 1987 graduate of Hamilton Wenham High School. I live in Hamilton with my husband Michael, a retired police detective, and our 3 children. Our children are not yet in the schools, but part of the reason we moved back to Hamilton was so that they could benefit from the high-quality education that the district has historically provided.

I believe that most of the community agrees with the concept of providing quality education, but not necessarily how we can get there. The answer is not to throw more money at the schools. The answer is to use the resources we have in productive ways.  As more revenue is needed, we need to seek alternate sources of funding. The relationship with Gordon Conwell needs to be re-evaluated. In addition, we need to support increased applications for grants.

I am a contracts attorney, currently with a software company and previously at Harvard Medical School. My legal experience includes work negotiating union contracts.

I have also been a high school English Teacher, English Department Head and in-house legal counsel to a charter school. From that experience, I understand the challenges that that teachers and administrators face. I know how hard classroom teachers work both in and out of the classroom – including the work they do at home and on their personal time.  I have practical experience in a school, both as a teacher and as an advisor. I know that it is not necessarily about how much money a school district spends, but about how that money is spent. And I fully support our teachers in their role as the providers of the quality education. I can be reached at [email protected].

CANDIDATES FOR HAMILTON SELECTMAN [VOTE FOR TWO]

William Dery:
It’s a good bet that all candidates say the phrase “lower taxes.” My phrase is efficient spending. We are still after one year walling around with the Patton property, with no plan.  My position is put the original agreement with Mrs. Patton for twelve houses in the back in place and work from a secure positive tax income base. Then see what can be done with the house and land. The same proponents of the B& B for Patton Property again want the town to go into business to secure the Pirie property. Now the property is beautiful, no question, the projected tax income is between 225-275K for 6 houses. If anybody can show me on paper using non bogus arguments that there will be higher revenue, I will change my position. I do not accept the premise of paying 4 mill for property just to have it because maybe there is some use in the future is valid. I don’t see the town going into the land development business. Basically the town has to make some decisions one of which is: to encourage land development or not to encourage. The above is only a fraction of what I see, especially in spending efficiency. I ran for school committee on the platform of efficient maintenance spending, I think we are well on our way with that effort. Planning is the backbone of an efficient system, 10-20 year planning is not present in the town, I will push for a Town Master plan integrated with the School Master Plan. But the reality is our tax rate, we need to slow its rate of increase through careful efficient application of decisions. One last thing — I have no plans to abandon the School Committee; the law says I can hold both positions.

Jacob (Jack) Hauck:
If elected I will continue to support the HWRSD in the same strong ways as I have as a citizen.

The HWRSD is working very well. There is a knowledgeable, dedicated, elected, school committee that clearly represents what the people of Hamilton want. The recent progress the present school committee has made is very gratifying.

I will seek to have the School Operational Audit brought to the fore and implemented.

Our new superintendent and our teachers, I believe, will maintain the excellent school system we now have.

Marc Johnson:
The town’s confidence in our regional school committee and our school administration has improved immensely over the last two years. The quality of budget materials shared with the community is building trust. The increased transparency about financial and operating matters has also been welcome. Superintendent-Town Manager communications have improved to the point where strong operational concepts are being discussed openly. I will work to sustain these improvements during my second term.

I will join with other Selectmen to support the HWRSC as they address relevant outstanding issues identified by the operational audit. The pace of budgetary growth is still above a sustainable level so it is imperative that the rate of expense increases be slowed.  I trust the school administration’s claims that they can find further efficiencies in the school system without sacrificing the quality of education that they deliver.

I will support and fight for the schools whenever they advance responsible budgets and curriculum that address our community’s educational needs. Our world is evolving quickly and the HWRSD must educate our children to handle the challenges of the 21st century.  The HWRSD’s challenge is to adapt  curriculum and staffing while staying within our very real financial and union constraints. It will not be easy. I will support the HWRSC so that current and future families can experience the positive educational opportunities that my children benefited from while attending the Winthrop, Miles River and Regional High School.

As always, I would be pleased to listen to any ideas you may have or discuss any topics you are curious about.  I can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 978-468-5198. Thank you for your consideration and I would appreciate your support on April 11th.

Scott Maddern:
Thank you for being active in our schools and considering me for Selectman.

The Selectman’s role is to be a partner with the School Committee and I’ve demonstrated effective two-town relationships in all of my community services (Joint Library; Finance Committee; Sports and Activities Alliance; Sports’ Commissioner). The Selectman’s role is also to help communicate to residents the mission, long term plan and many accomplishments of our school system. I strongly encourage early budget dialogue so that both Boards can communicate effectively with our townspeople.

My 4 sons attended our K-12 schools and graduated well-prepared for college, better than many of their fellow college classmates. Our schools and teachers are top notch and my wife Jan and I were very involved with them for almost 20 years. During that time I helped found the “Alliance” to raise funds and awareness for after-school activities. This is what John McGrath has to say about me:

Scott was not-only a co-founder but also one of the key contributors in the group’s success in raising over $200,000 for high-school programs. While Scott is a strong advocate for athletic programs, as a member of the Alliance he supported non-athletic programs with equal energy. It was obvious to me his approach was well balanced and well-thought-out. I commend Scott for keeping our mission in focus and reminding the group to be open-minded.

I chaired the Joint Library Committee for ten years and this is what Annette Janes has to say about me:

Scott Maddern was the chairman of this vast, multifaceted and unprecedented project that required unique and exceptional diplomatic skills. Throughout all the difficult negotiations I found Scott to be a cool-headed, fair-minded and far-sighted leader with a sense of humor and always a gentleman.

CANDIDATES FOR WENHAM SELECTMAN [VOTE FOR ONE]

Molly Martins:
After attending HWRHS, three of my daughters have received significant academic scholarships from colleges of their choice. With two more daughters on their way, I want to be assured of the continued excellence of our schools.

I have 10 years of experience as Vice President of Finance and Administration at Emmanuel College and Montserrat College of Art. My skills and this experience have given me the insight and appreciation to understand the challenges of balancing educational needs and financial constraints.

As a Selectman it is my responsibility to represent the interests and needs of all of the taxpayers. I will continue to provide the same support and advocacy for the Schools as I have for the last three years as Chairman of the Board of Selectman in Wenham.

I will continue to work with the leadership of Wenham, Hamilton and the School District to identify and implement initiatives which will allow us to use our resources efficiently and effectively.

I have regularly convened the leadership of the Towns and the Schools to discuss the goals and challenges that we all face. These discussions have led to the exchange of ideas and created new ways of working together to share resources. Examples of these initiatives, leadership and support include:

  • the agreement among the three entities for Grounds and Buildings Maintenance;
  • the initiation of discussions that led to the unified presentation and request for a $2.1m debt exclusion to fund a portion of deferred maintenance of school buildings. This request passed with overwhelming support at both Special Town Meetings.
  • promoting meeting discussions that have led to a 2014 School budget unanimously supported by the Boards of Selectmen, Finance Committees and School Committee that maintains the excellence of our academic programs.

I am committed to continuing this support and collaboration.

Jack Wilhelm:
As you know, the Wenham Board of Selectman have no direct authority over HWRSD School operations, policies or budgets, except for requested E&D transfers, which are not common. However, I believe that the Selectman can and should exercise leadership in the annual budgeting process, working with the Finance Committee and the HWRSD Board, by encouraging constructive dialog early in the process with the hope that last minute budget brinkmanship can be avoided.

My three children are all graduates of the Hamilton/Wenham School system, where they received, in their opinion as well as mine, an excellent education. My two daughters participated in all the major school sports and have fond memories of their experiences.

I am told that families move to Wenham because of the well deserved academic reputation of the school system, as well as the small town atmosphere of Wenham. If elected, my job, in support of the schools, will be to maintain and enhance this sought after experience.

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