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Sutton High News

Sutton High News

Meet the Candidates for School Committee

Ben Gibbons: incumbent
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.
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)?
My name is Ben Gibbons, I have lived in Sutton for eight years, and I have one kid in school (first grade).
2. What are the best features of the Sutton Public Schools?
We are still a small town with big town opportunities. I’m impressed by the level of services that our kids have in this district. The elementary kids have several after school services (art and music). The middle school has athletics and additional opportunities. The high school offers eSports, journalism and more including great athletic programs (our girls won the state soccer title again this year).
3. What is the most crucial issue facing public education?
Public education on a national level is facing a teacher shortage. So far in Massachusetts we are doing ok. It comes done to funding. People are struggling to meet their own bills, and there are many other issues facing states. With older buildings and additional priorities, we have so many things to care for that we have to find as many ways as possible to fund education beyond just taxes, and we need to develop and recruit more teachers. We have to think outside the box and not just rely on what worked in the past.
4. How can we properly fund education without dramatically raising taxes?
Taxes are the primary method of funding school systems. In Sutton, a small percentage comes from the state, and the burden falls largely on the local taxpayers. We have to find ways to get the state to increase the levels we receive. Sutton has to look outside the box to fund education without just raising taxes. Grants and other methods of funding must be explored and pursued.
5. What do you want to see happen in Sutton Public Schools over the next two years?
I would like to see Sutton keep up the same level of opportunities for our students. We need to maintain our top priorities–curriculum, events, etc.–and continue to help our students be productive citizens. We need to streamline our curriculum so we can offer the same services (ELL) to all students that need it.
6. How much input should parents have into the classroom curriculum? What should happen when state requirements conflict with parental concerns?
Across the state, DESE frequently provides new guidance to us about our curriculum. With the changes in culture, parental concerns are increasing. Parents deserve the right to know what is going on in schools, they deserve the right to review the curriculum, and if they really want a say they need to get more involved in the schools. Schools and parents/guardians are in a partnership, and working together to provide the best curriculum is necessary. Working together is the key.
We have to find avenues for parents to share their thoughts and concerns and to opt out of curriculum when necessary. We have to focus on what is best for Sutton regardless of what DESE states.
7. What made you decide to seek re-election?
We have all seen that the next school committee term will be critical to the district and community, and I am running again to help shape what is next. My role is to ensure that students receive a proper education, become active and productive citizens, and to make this the best district possible. That should be everyone’s focus.
8. What are your primary credentials that make you an excellent candidate?
I was a college counselor and worked in admissions, I taught some college classes, did recruitment and marketing for a private school, and then went into consulting and management for a higher education software company. My mom was an educator for 20 years. I’ve always been involved in education. Now that I have children old enough for school, I want to be there for them and all the children.
9. If re-elected, how will you work to find common ground with your fellow school committee members?
I’ve always found the middle ground with the committee. We have diverse opinions on our committee, and I’m willing to listen and work with people no matter their views. We want to give proper weight to all thoughts, and to properly consider what our best choices are.
10. What specific message would you like to share with the voters?
When I first ran for school committee, my main focus was to represent the students and community properly, and I will continue to do that.

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