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Survey Responses

Organizations and outlets frequently request candidate responses to specific questions to help them better understand a candidate's position or just get to know a candidate better. All of John's responses will be posted below as they are submitted.

Waltham Educators Association

  1. What is your current level of involvement and knowledge of the Waltham Public Schools?

    • Given that my wife and I do not have kids of our own, my level of involvement with WPS is limited to the education and food access programming that takes place in conjunction with Waltham Fields Community Farm, where I serve on the Board of Directors and in supporting other community organizations that engage with WPS (namely things like the Boys and Girls Club, where as a Lion, we spent a few days building COVID desk separators). My knowledge of the school system is broader, as I try to support and advocate for any and all initiatives that help our schools. I attended public schools growing up, and come from a family of educators (my parents, in-laws and siblings are or were teachers), so education has always been near and dear to me. So much of a community’s future is dependent on having, and maintaining, a public school system that prepares young people for the future - the City Council needs to position itself to help with that mission.​

  2. Waltham is a very diverse community.  As of 2023, about 62% of students are considered high needs, 59% have a first language other than English, 17% are on an IEP, and 48% are considered low income. How do you feel you can best represent the needs of Waltham students and educators as a City Council member?

    • First and foremost, the City Council should be working proactively with the School Committee to ensure full alignment of the priorities of our students, teachers and community. The Council and Committee should not operate in silos, only coming together to accept or reject a budget. Beyond that, the Council should engage in things like Cultural Competence training to better understand different identities and experiences. Further, the Council should be soliciting input from Students, Educators and any appropriate experts in their fields to ensure decisions are made in consideration of all points of view. My mother and mother-in-law-law dedicated more than 45 years of their careers to Special Education, so I have a firm appreciation for the need to consider all student populations and the teams that support their needs.

    • We need to ensure equitable allocation of resources that account for student demographics, socioeconomic status and special needs. Similarly, we need to ensure we are addressing the mental health and well-being of students, and educators, by advocating for accessible counseling services, mental health resources and safe and supportive school environments. The best thing I can do as a City Councilor is ask important questions and listen to the experts so we can make informed decisions that benefit everyone.

  3. What do you feel is the role of the City Council in the development of the School Department’s  budget?

    • The City Council should be working proactively with the School Committee to ensure alignment of priorities before the budget process has even begun. It is the responsibility of the School Committee to produce the budget and the responsibility of the City Council to approve or reject that budget - the process is inefficient and should be revised. Proactive discussions would allow for Public Input and Funding Requests. Communication between Teachers, Parents, Students and City Officials would allow for more effective long-term planning so we can ensure that WPS works today and tomorrow.

  4. As a City Council Member, what would be your largest budgetary concern for the Waltham Public Schools?

    • The largest budgetary concern for me is adequacy of funding (where it comes from, and how it is allocated). State & local funding can fluctuate based on budget decisions and changes in tax policies. 

    • Waltham needs to have plans for how to react to changing state-level dynamics, while managing local policies to ensure adequate property and commercial tax revenues to support key budget items. Beyond that, we need to ensure funding is distributed equitably across our schools and programs so we can provide all students with access to a quality education.

  5. Currently, 510 Moody Street is the site of the Dual Language School, the Waltham Family School, the Waltham Parks and Recreation Department, and the Waltham Cultural and Community Center.  As a City Council member, what do you see as the future of 510 Moody Street?

    • All of the current uses of 510 Moody Street have merit and key use cases. That said, the City has many properties that are currently under-utilized, and if there is a better way to support the mission and activities of these organizations, those should be evaluated and pursued. A robust City Plan that accounts for all of the City’s resources would allow for more optimal uses of all of its properties, including 510 Moody.​

  6. The voters of Massachusetts recently passed the Fair Share amendment, dedicating an additional tax revenue source to public education and public transportation.  As a City Council member, what is your vision for ensuring our schools are fully funded to meet the needs of all students?

    • It is my opinion that any incremental tax revenues allocated to Waltham that are attributable to the Fair Share amendment should be treated as purely incremental to WPS budget discussions. These new revenues should NOT replace other revenue streams, thereby holding the budget flat. This revenue should be reinvested in our school system as was intended by the amendment itself.​

State Issues

Indicate if you agree or disagree with the WEA's support of the following legislation:

John's Response: I agree with WEA's position supporting the passage of all of these items.

  • An Act committing to higher education the resources to insure a strong and healthy public higher education system : This act provides adequate public higher education funding levels, including expanded support for student services; ensures debt-free public higher education for all.

  • An Act empowering students and schools to thrive -This bill eliminates the current high-stakes components of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), including the graduation exam requirement and receiverships.  It allows for a formation of a committee to revamp the current test and requirements. 

  • An Act uplifting families and securing the right to strike for certain public employees-This bill allows educators and other public employees, except for public safety personnel, to legally strike after six months of failed negotiations with their employer.

  • An Act to provide fair and affordable public retiree benefits- This bill ensures greater economic security for retired educators, including by increasing the base on which the annual state and teacher pension COLA is calculated.

  • An Act to ensure appropriate funding for PreK-Grade 12 schools-The WEA supports  the allocation of Fair Share Amendment funds in the FY24 state budget and other spending bills for preK-12 education above and beyond Student Opportunity Act funding.

  1. What do you love most about Waltham?

    • What I love about Waltham is its incredible diversity - our community, our businesses and our resources. We have families that have called it home for generations living alongside neighbors from around the globe. We are a tech hub and a small business haven; we have businesses focused on healthcare, education, retail, hospitality and everything in between. We have farms that neighbor commercial centers. Where else but Waltham can you spend a day picking vegetables in your own garden, snack on tacos at a nationally recognized 'hole in the wall', take a stroll along the Charles River, visit a brewery or take your family to a festival on the common? Waltham has everything, and because it has everything, it has something for everyone, and we need to make sure it continues to be a place that everyone can call home.​

  2. What would you change if you could?

    • Local transit - it should be easy and inexpensive to get around our city by bus, bike, car or foot. Traffic snarls the main streets causing cars to cut through residential areas. This often puts residents at risk when on foot given the state of our sidewalks. Designated-use lanes, signage, and traffic lights do too little to manage the flow of cars. Our bus routes are inadequate, or non-existent, and travel by bike is also often dangerous. Our infrastructure was built when our city had a significantly smaller population and as we grew, Waltham has never addressed the pressure put on these resources. Transit needs to be as accessible and convenient as driving a car.​

  3. What is one burning issue you plan to address if elected?

    • City Planning. We need open and honest dialogue about the future of our city. Waltham needs a long-term vision that will address housing for all its citizens, transit & traffic management, economic development, environmental sustainability and land use. We need input from all residents, from all parts of the city, to make a plan that can work for everyone. We’ve spent years without a real plan for what to do with the resources our City has, it’s time to move forward.​

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