LETTERS: School Committee Candidates State Their Case

Print More

To the Editor,

Four busy years have passed in what seems like the blink of an eye. Looking back, we have accomplished a lot in the school system and started other initiatives that will continue for many years. Now as we approach Election Day I would like to focus on some of the accomplishments I have been involved with over the past four years.

As Chair of the Buildings and Grounds sub-committee, we accomplished a lot and laid the foundation for future improvements in our schools. Here are some of the things I was directly involved in:

  • Learning gardens were installed at every elementary school and made a part of the curriculum for all grades.
  • At the Hosmer School, the drainage pits were filled in and landscaped, removing an eyesore and health hazard.
  • Capital improvements are made at every school, every year. These include safety upgrades, interior and exterior work and new furniture for the classrooms.
  • At the Hosmer School, the pre-K space was reconfigured and expanded, and a new breakout room was added in the small gym.
  • Hall rental fees paid by for-profit groups were increased for the first time in over 10 years and the district is no longer losing money on these rentals.
  • Worked with the Town Council to start the ESCO project and have all of the school buildings updated with new furnaces and environmental control systems, immediately reducing our energy costs significantly.
  • All school buildings were evaluated by an outside architectural firm to get objective information about the physical state of our schools.
  • With the Superintendent, we crafted 2 statements of interest in 2014 and 2 more in 2015 and submitted them to the Mass. School Building Authority, requesting renovations to the Middle School and replacement of the High School due to space limitations.

In addition to work on the sub-committees, I have worked with other committee members on various initiatives that will yield long term benefits for the district, such as:

  • The contract with the teacher’s union was settled in early 2012 and strained relations were healed. When the contract was renewed, negotiations were professional, respectful and agreement was reached quickly and without negativity.
  • I chaired the search committee for a new Superintendent which included parents, community members, teachers and a WHS student, and selected Dr. Fitzgerald.
  • Pushed for the restoration of the Cops and Kids program during the budget process.
  • Worked on the ad-hoc committee that updated the District’s educational goals.
  • Pushed for the use of leasing options rather than direct purchase of computer hardware and other big ticket items as a way to reduce maintenance costs.
  • Pushed very hard to get more support and more licensed professionals into the
  • Special Education programs in order to add services and keep students in district, when appropriate.
  • Appointed to the Board of Watertown Cable Access as the School Committee representative, and was then elected Treasurer by the board. WCA-TV now offers 4 video production classes and a radio production class, and all sections are over subscribed every year.

It has been a very full, rewarding and sometimes challenging four years, and it has been my honor to serve the schools and offer my skills and experience. Working with the administration, the teachers and staff, parents, the Town Council and Town Hall, I firmly believe that Watertown Public Schools are in a much better place than four years ago.

I ask for your vote on Nov. 3 so that I may continue to work with the School Committee to build a better school system for the current and future students of Watertown.

Mike Shepard
Summer Street


Incumbent Says District Better Off Than 4 Years Ago

Dear Friends,

My name is Julie McMahon and I am a candidate up for re election to the school committee. I am a lifelong Watertown resident. I went through the WPS k-12 and graduated WHS class of 1984 along with my husband. My mom, my in-laws and all of our siblings went through the WPS. My sister was part of the special ed programs. I am proud to say we have two children. Our son Cody is a 2015 WHS graduate and is attending UNE in Maine. Our daughter Cali is currently a WHS sophmore. I’m grateful that I have had the opportunity to have children in our elementary, middle and high schools. It has given me a certain insight on our strengths and weaknesses at each level.

My degree is in Early Childhood Education. I have owned Caterpillars to Butterflies Preschool since 1999. I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of families, caring for their children and sending them into WPS. This has allowed me the unique opportunity of having frequent communication with families and students, throughout the last 16 years. My preschool has a collaborative with the WHS child development program. Students from the HS program do volunteer hours and job shadowing it is such a nice experience and connection to WPS. Having children in the schools for the last 14 years has also provided me with an abundance of information from my children, their friends and families. These are first hand experiences of how our schools are doing.

In 2002, I embarked on my involvement in the WPS with PTO, then Middle School PTO president (2011-2013) and currently finishing my 4th year on School Committee. These experiences have provided so many opportunities for constant communication with students, parents, teachers, school staff, Administrators and the Superintendent.

I have been fortunate to have been part of all the amazing accomplishments over the past four years but there is still work to be done.

There has been much conversation recently about how our schools are doing and how we measure their success. I decided to define success:

  • successful: Gaining or having gained success.
  • success: The achievement of something desired, planned or attempted

What I really want is for all our students to be successful. Not a preconceived notion of success but success that is defined differently by each student and family. All of our students have a vision for life after high school. These may include college, vocational, military, career, leap program, travel, community service or just taking some time to figure out who they are and what they want. We need to be certain we prepare them for each and everyone of these opportunities, I absolutely believe we should have the highest expectations for our students and they for themselves. It is our responsibility to make sure that all of our students are given the best experience and every opportunity to achieve their success.

I see my role on school committee as one part of a bigger team. We work collectively to come up with the best solutions. I provide my thoughts, knowledge, ideas, experience, support,encouragement and assistance, I advocate for strengthening our school system, We need to continue to provide our teachers with the support, tools, curriculum and professional development needed to continue to be our greatest resource. We have created an environment of consistency by supporting the Superintendent, administrators and all school staff. Thus long term visions and goals can be achieved. We need to continue to create policies with common sense and with the best interest of our students at the core. We have built a positive relationship with the town council and the town manager and presented a clear budget that secured the WPS a tremendous financial increase. Great things are happening in Watertown Public Schools. I feel that the schools are definitely in a better place than 4 years ago and are continuing to move forward. I would like to move forward with them.

Please consider giving me your vote on November 3rd

Thank you,
Julie McMahon
Boylston Street

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *