Meet the Candidates: School Committee

Reading, MA — Despite it being an uncontested election, both candidates for the two seats on the School Committee participated in the “Meet the Candidates” night hosted by the Reading Democratic Town Committee on March 16.

The first candidate is fifteen-year School Committee veteran Chuck Robinson. Robinson shared his excitement over how the new central office staff is already transforming the district. He believes that his years on the School Committee and his nine prior years on the Finance Committee make him the “gray hair in the room,” suggesting that his experience can help guide the committee in its work. Robinson continued by sharing his years of coaching experience and his direct participation in four rounds of collective bargaining agreements. 

“Every decision we make has to be about kids,” Robinson declared.

Moving forward, Robinson emphasized the goals of [academic] excellence, the Killam School project, full-day kindergarten, and continuing expansion of the METCO program. When questioned about full-day kindergarten, Robinson reminded the room that “We have professionals that are doing it right now, but we need to make it available to all [families].” He continued, suggesting that full-day kindergarten needs to be implemented “thoughtfully and judiciously.”

Tom Wise is completing his first term on the School Committee. He has been in Reading for sixteen years and has also coached youth sports in town. Wise got his start in the schools as part of the Joshua Eaton Task Force. “[Kids] are why we do what we do,” Wise declared. Wise indicated enthusiasm for the new superintendent, sharing that “we hit it out of the park” when [Superintendent Thomas Milachewski] was hired.

Wise continued, highlighting what has been accomplished in the past three years including the establishment of a policy sub-committee, creating “smart” goals for the superintendent, and continued focus on literacy. “Reading is the key fundamental issue,” Wise confirmed, indicating his belief that reading is the pathway to the rest of the curriculum. He also emphasized the need to create excellence and equity and his desire to continue the best practice of investing to save, especially in the area of special education. Three priorities to return Reading to the “top tier” that Wise suggests include: fixing reading, especially in the elementary ages, addressing curriculum availability at the high school, access to full-day kindergarten and middle school math, and addressing half-days. “[We need to] make sure all students have the ability to read,” Wise stated.

Voters will be able to cast their votes for candidates for all town-wide offices as well as all 192 seats on Town Meeting in the April 5 local election at the Hawkes Field House at RMHS. The complete “Meet the Candidates” night can be viewed on RCTV’s YouTube channel.
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