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Meet the Candidates for School Committee

Matt Gautreau
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)?
Sure. So my name is Matthew Gautreau. I’ve lived here since 2017. I have two daughters in school, one in kindergarten, one in second grade.
2. What are the best features of the Sutton Public Schools?
Well, there really are a lot of great features in our schools. Sometimes it is hard to see them when you’re in it, but there are a lot. So for one, the staff is excellent here. From my experience so far, of course with the younger kids, I have seen them really thrive with the staff. You when you walk around the school with things like the art show and you see something that doesn’t happen by accident. There’s really great projects and that doesn’t happen at every school. Even today, I was at the immigration fair with my daughter, and that takes a lot of coordination. And that doesn’t just happen and we shouldn’t take that for granted. So without the staff that’s here, the school is just four walls. So I think the staff is the best feature. 
3. What is the most crucial issue facing public education?
I think the hardest thing that public education has to do is give kids and students the skills and the motivation and the ambition to achieve their potential. You know, it’s not an easy world; to graduate and go to college is very expensive. A lot of kids will take on debt for that. The career choices are not clear, and you’re going to have to make decisions at a very early age in your life as to what path you want to take. The school has a really big responsibility to teach people those skills and to help prepare them for that future. I know when I was in school, I only had a vague idea of what career paths were. I didn’t know a lot about different cultures. You know, we didn’t even know how money works. And I then went and took out thousands of dollars of debt and picked a career path at 18 years old. So I would hope that today, we can prepare kids better than I was prepared. I think today, kids are probably more educated than they’ve ever been. But it’s still a tough world to graduate into.
4. How can we properly fund education without dramatically raising taxes?
That’s another great question. So budgeting is about trade offs. We have to make informed decisions about what we want to promote and what we value with that money. If the costs are rising faster than the revenue, then we have to understand what we value and seek to improve that and make informed decisions based on data and facts. You know, we value things like class sizes, good programs, good teachers, and we have to be able to support that. So we have to make trade offs as appropriate to do that. I’ve been a manufacturing leader for a long time. It’s a big part of my job, to look at financial data and look at budgets and understand what value we’re providing to our customers and how we  can get the best outcomes. And we should do the same thing for the school.
5. What do you want to see happen in Sutton Public Schools over the next two years?
So, to be honest, two years is a pretty short time frame. But in that time frame, I think the best thing we could do is just keep the school set up the best way it can be from a fiscal standpoint. To be honest, from what I’ve seen so far, I’m thrilled with how the school is going. I just want to make sure we can continue to make good decisions and keep getting better.
6. How much input should parents have into the classroom curriculum? What should happen when state requirements conflict with parental concerns?
First, developing a curriculum is not a simple task. You have to do research into what to teach. You have to get materials, then you have to get the staff trained , and then you’re going to have to develop methods of evaluation to make sure that what’s being taught is being taught effectively, and that students are learning what they need to learn. Your education shouldn’t be looked at as something to just get through. We have to look at the outcomes and understand that what we’re trying to do has to have the best stuff for the best outcomes. I know I wouldn’t want to have that burden by myself. I think decisions should be based on research and development of what the best outcomes are. Therefore, I do not think that parents should have an input into what the curriculum is; however, having said that, there are going to be times that people object to what’s going on, and they should have the ability to provide those objections or to opt in or opt out as necessary. If we disagree with what’s required, that’s going to happen throughout life. And in my experience, if something is required, then it’s probably wise to do it.
7. What made you decide to run and seek election?
So I’ve always valued public service. I served in the military for seven years. I serve as the treasurer on the board of directors of the Puckihuddle Preschool. My kids are here in our schools now. I think I can help out and give back to the school. You know, some people are really good at being coaches or being teachers or a nurse or what not. I’m good at organization and Excel spreadsheets and budgets, and this is the best way I can help out.
8. What are your primary credentials that make you an excellent candidate?
I’ve been recognized as a successful leader of large and complex organizations for a long time. I have a degree in mechanical engineering from Northeastern, and I served as a nuclear submarine officer. I’ve worked in manufacturing, I’ve been a plant manager for large plants. I’m Director of Operations now for a local company. I lead people, manage budgets, made tough decisions, and drove organizational improvements. I think that most of what running the school can entail is very similar to what you find at a large organizations. I think I can contribute that way. I put in my papers and started this journey months ago. So really, this comes from a desire to help out so
9. If elected/re-elected, how will you work to find common ground with your fellow school committee members?
In all the places that I’ve been in, I can’t name a single one where everyone’s agreed with each other. So if this is the first one, that would be wonderful, but I’m assuming there’s going to be disagreements, right? We have to approach these things with an open mind. You need sound, realistic expectations to think that everyone’s going to follow what you say and what you want. So you’re gonna have to think about all those points of view and see compromises needed to this. That’s probably going to be a big part of this role.
10. What specific message would you like to share with the voters?
I care about this community. I’m gonna approach this position from a position of logic, integrity, and respect. And whatever decisions we make, they should pass the old front page of a newspaper test. If you’re going to make a decision, you should feel okay with that decision being printed on the front page of a newspaper. I’ll work to make all decisions front page decisions. 

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