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Sutton High News

Meet the Candidates for School Committee

Jill Kozaczka: Write In
SuttonHighNews conducted an interview with each candidate running for the School Committee. Our goal is to provide a more comprehensive look at each candidate so voters can make an informed decision.
SuttonHighNews is not endorsing any candidate. The interviews are being released in a random order with no intent to give anyone more or less time.
All candidates were given the questions in advance and asked to respond in less than two minutes per question. We asked the same questions, in the same order, to each candidate.
Questions for the candidates:
1. What is your name, how long have you lived in Sutton, and how many children do you have in or have had in the Sutton Public Schools (how long were they there)?
I have lived in Sutton my entire life. I am a fifth generation Sutton teacher, my three children all went to Sutton–my oldest graduated last year, my middle child is in 10th grade, and my youngest is in 7th grade.
2. What are the best features of the Sutton Public Schools?
The sense of community. That comes from generations of families living in town and living together. My mother taught so many people that I know, the school being on one campus is so unique and I love it. The little kids being able to go up to the high school and attend so many events–plays, fairs, concerts, sports–really helps establish that sense of community. Then the high school students come down and volunteer, do their future teacher assignments, their internships, clap and cheer the little kids in their  Halloween costumes–all those things create a sense of community. For faculty and staff, these kids aren’t just our students the year we have them, but they are our students throughout the whole system. For elementary teachers, they leave our grade but we see them in high school and it’s amazing to see them come back to the elementary building. A highlight for me was to have the senior internship program and students that I had as students come back and intern with me because they are going into education–it’s definitely the community.
3. What is the most crucial issue facing public education?
The funding. It’s always the funding. There’s no way around it. Sutton has gone through so many times of cuts, and we cut and cut, and we have lost so many positions–over a decade ago we cut over 20 positions. Very few of those positions have returned. That affects education. Budget is always an issue. The state needs to come up with a different formula, a different method of funding all education, including small towns.
4. How can we properly fund education without dramatically raising taxes?
There needs to be multi-level funding, and several people going through the budget to find the best way to benefit students. We need to make sure spending is accurately accounted for. We need to plan the budget early. When the state approved private schools for special education which increased their tuition drastically, the state needs to provide more funding for small public school communities. It shouldn’t pit regular education families against special education families. We need to do what is in the best interest of all students.
5. What do you want to see happen in Sutton Public Schools over the next two years?
Return to the school and community and renew our focus on academics and education. I would love to see smaller class sizes in the elementary (K-5)–that’s my area of expertise. By reducing class sizes we will insure that our students have a solid educational foundation. Those benefits will show up as the kids get older. We need to fund new resources and curriculum. We need to update those in the elementary schools as one of the reading programs is 20 years old. Staff needs more time to align our curriculum. Without a curriculum coordinator, we need time to work together to make sure it lines up across the district. Staff need time to collaborate. Long term goal, I would also love to see the turf field become a reality. If elected, while it is not directly related to the school committee, there would be an opportunity to help the parent group that is trying to initiate that, to work with the town to make that happen. It would be great for the community.
6. How much input should parents have into the classroom curriculum? What should happen when state requirements conflict with parental concerns?
Parents have the right to be informed about changes in curriculum, especially given recent things that have happened, the sensitive nature of the change in the health curriculum. Parents should expect the schools to be proactive with holding meetings and gathering feedback. I like the idea of having committees that are comprised of parents, administrators, teachers, community members, older students can be helpful when it is appropriate. When there is new curriculum, parents should have the opportunity to provide input, especially when it involves sensitive material that lead to parent concerns.
7. What made you decide to seek election?
I always wanted to be on the school committee. I assumed I would go through the typical process by filing papers early and going through the process and being on the ballot. I didn’t think I would be trying to get elected at this time. When the superintendent announced that she was going out on medical leave, given everything that was going on in the town, I felt it was time to help the community. I think I have a unique perspective being a parent and teacher. I figured that if she does not return and we need to hire a new superintendent, I definitely want to be on that committee.
8. What are your primary credentials that make you an excellent candidate?
20 years of teaching in Sutton makes me a good candidate. My expertise is K-3, but having children going through this system gives me insight, as a parent, in the middle and high school. My education is a Bachelors in Psychology, taught students with and without disabilities, Masters in Early Childhood Education, Masters in Literacy, and 15 classes beyond a Masters including five in school leadership and administration.
9. If elected, how will you work to find common ground with your fellow school committee members?
I think that anybody that seeks election or re-election are donating their time, and I trust that they only have the best intentions for the students and community. I would be open to listening to other perspectives and finding common ground. I would not come in with a specific agenda. I am willing to listen to everyone, and working collaboratively to find the best ways to serve the students and community.
10. What specific message would you like to share with the voters?
I want to to help. I have a unique perspective–from this town, a graduate of the schools, a teacher in the system, a parent of three children in the schools–and unique knowledge to contribute to ensure the best education for all of the students in our community.

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