A note for voters: Each ward has one School Committee representative, which is an at-large position, meaning it is voted on by everyone in the city.
This year, the Ward 8 School Committee race is uncontested, with current Ward 8 member Margie Ross Decter running for re-election.
Newton Patch posed six questions to all 38 candidates running in this year's election, regardless of whether the race was contested. We will be running the profiles by Ward each day, starting Oct. 26.
The election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Margie Ross Decter
Running for: Ward 8 School Committee seat
Q: Why are you running for re-election?
A: With three children in Newton Public Schools (NPS), I continue to be committed to ensuring that our educational system will challenge each of our kids to excel despite increased budgetary pressure and student enrollment. Our children and teachers are still coping with overcrowded classes and inadequate space, and our facilities have been neglected. With a new superintendent and school leadership, and by prioritizing teaching excellence and innovation, we are poised to make some exciting changes, and I would be honored to continue to challenge our system to innovate and to accelerate needed improvements.
Q: What is your background in local government or community involvement and how will it help you in this seat? Do you have other experiences that will help you in the position?
A: In addition to one term on School Committee, I have served on or chaired several educational and non-profit boards and leadership councils, including a Newton-based college and the Memorial Spaulding School Council. Professionally I am a health care management consultant with 20 years specializing in strategy, performance improvement, marketing communications, and public health policy, and have leveraged my business acumen as a School Committee Member. Perhaps my most valuable experience has been as a mom of three children (ages 6, 10, 12) in the NPS, and my continued work with parents to advocate for a school system that better engages, inspires and challenges every child regardless of ability.
Q: With Newton facing several tough budget seasons in the recent past -- and likely several in the future -- what do you feel needs to be cut, added or changed in the budget to keep the city's finances balanced?
A: With federal and state funding eroding, Newton needs to be even more creative with its revenue and budget development. e should expand our partnerships with colleges, universities and businesses (e.g. the Innovation Lab), expand enrollment in specialized programs that can generate revenue and keep students in district (e.g. Newton Central High), and reduce fees that overburden families and discourage participation in the arts and valued academic programs. We also need to better coordinate city and school services, alleviate overcrowding, and bring to scale innovations that improve education and save money.
Q: What is the most important issue Newton faces today?
A: I believe that our biggest issue is our city’s short term financial focus. Developing a sustainable long term plan for the city and our schools with multi-year measurable goals will enable better strategic and financial planning—this includes investments that may require short term capital but yield savings in the long run. One example is investing in educational technology that could accelerate adoption of better teaching and efficiencies across the system, improve differentiated instruction for kids, share lesson plans, and in-source teacher training. If we are “penny wise but pound foolish,” we will miss opportunities to invest in a better and more efficient system that will pay off down the road.
Q: If elected, what is something you are going to focus on in your position for the next two years?
A: I will focus on four objectives:
- Champion innovation, performance improvement (teaching and learning), and financial sustainability;
- Accelerate implementation of facilities renovations;
- Identify non-tax revenue for the schools (e.g. strengthening partnership with Newton Schools Foundation and partnerships with academia and industry); and
- Improve communications to ensure we share our school system’s progress with the community and help expand support to make Newton schools a priority.
Q: Name one thing the residents of Newton may not know about you.
A: After working in the White House, I served as a surrogate speaker for Hillary Clinton during National Health Reform 1993-1994. I traveled the country supporting the effort to educate and unite business, government, and residents of all ages to address poor access, quality, and the rising cost of health care nationally.
Interested in the other School Committee candidates? Check out our profiles:
- Ward 1: Geoff Epstein
- Ward 2: Jonathan Yeo and Margaret Albright
- Ward 3: Angela Pitter-Wright
- Ward 4: Josh Krintzman and Diana Fisher Gomberg
- Ward 5: Sue Rosenbaum and Steve Siegel
- Ward 6: Claire Sokoloff (Note: Sokoloff declined Patch's questionnaire so there is no Q&A for Ward 6)
- Ward 7: Matt Hills
Want to learn more about this year's Board of Aldermen candidates?
- Ward 1: Carleton Merrill, Janet Sterman, Allan Ciccone
- Ward 2: Stephen Linsky and Marcia Johnson
- Ward 3: Ted Hess-Mahan and Greer Tan Swiston
- Ward 4: Amy Mah Sangiolo and Jay Harney
- Ward 5: Deborah Crossley
- Ward 6: Charlie Shapiro, Greg Schwartz, Vicki Danberg
- Ward 7: Marc Laredo, Ruthanne Fuller, Lisle Baker
- Ward 8: David Kalis, Mitch Fischman, Tom Sheff and Cheryl Lappin