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Candidates Focus on Budget and Transparency in Wide-Open Ward 4 Seat

Newcomers Diana Fisher-Gomberg and Josh Krintzman will go head-to-head for the Ward 4 School Committee seat on November 8.

Regardless of the outcome of the November 8 municipal election in Newton, there will be a new face from Ward 4 sitting at the School Committee table.

Both Diana Fisher-Gomberg and Josh Krintzman have spent the last few months on the campaign trail in Newton, talking to voters and digging deep into the issues and concerns facing Newton parents and residents today. 

"Campaigning has been great," says Fisher-Gomberg, a parent of two students. "It's a lot of work but I have learned so much from campaigning. It's been a wonderful opportunity to hear different people's ideas and perspectives."

Krintzman, who has a 5 1/2-year old at , a 4-year old and a a 22-month old, says there's something about talking to candidates that allows voters to open up and have candid conversations. 

"When you walk around as a candidate, people sort of open themselves up to you right away," Kritnzman says. "They take a greater interest in the issues and you really get a detailed and informed discussion that you might not have normally had." 

In a race with no incumbent and a wide-open seat, the two candidates saw the opportunity in a different light. Fisher-Gomberg, who has served on Newton school councils and parent-teacher organizations, said the most recent budget cycle really pushed her to take the step to run for a city-wide position.

"This year really motivated me to channel all my different education advocacy energy to serve on the School Committee," Fisher-Gomberg says. "I wanted to make sure the School Committee is really full of people who are committed to education and have a good understanding of what is going on in the school so we can make smart decisions on how to use the budget."

Krintzman, who works as an associate counselor for the Massachusetts Senate, tells Newton Patch that public service has always been something that is important to him. 

Current Ward 4 School Committee member after a move to Newtonville. Krintzman notes that he probably wouldn't have challenged Yeo if he had stayed in the Ward 4 seat, but is happy about the chance for the seat nonetheless. 

"It's more about excitement to run than it being about opportunity," Kritnzman said. 

The budget

While on the campaign trail, Krintzman notes that there is not any disagreement among voters as to where they would like to see the public schools, it's often the discussion on how to get there that draws varied responses. 

If he had been involved with the fiscal 2012 budget process, Krintzman admits it's not likely the results would have been different. The process, though, is what he would like to see change.

What Krintzman wants to see is a more detailed discussion on .

"I understand that was the fiscal reality of things, but what I didn't hear was a real concrete discussion about what we're trying to do with these fees," Krintzman says. "That's a smarter way to approach a fee structure rather than just plugging holes in the budget."

For Krintzman, this means looking at all repercussions for the fees as well as goals for the incoming money -- whether it will go toward offsetting costs or just create revenue for the district. 

Fisher-Gomberg says her campaign conversations have been filled with a "range of reactions" to the new fees this year. If elected, she says she hopes to keep a close eye on the participation rates as a result of the fees and whether there are different ways to approach the fee structure, something she says aligns with her background in evaluation and program management. 

During the most recent budget process, Fisher-Gomberg says she was disappointed to see the level of cuts to art programs. In the future, she says she hopes the School Committee can work on more community partnerships and private fundraising opportunities.

Fisher-Gomberg also expresses her interest in PILOT or SILOT programs (payment in lieu of taxes or services in lieu of taxes), which would be targeted toward local colleges and non-profit organizations who pay taxes to the city or fees for building use.

Transparency, communication and technology

Although budget topics have been dominating election talk this year, the two Ward 4 candidates are looking to focus more on other issues including technology and School Committee communication. 

Fisher-Gomberg says her time on the School Committee would involve getting members to circulate more throughout the community, visiting non-school venues in the city and attending PTO meetings.

"It's so important that the whole community is involved in the schools," she says. 

The candidate also says she'd like to see the materials -- and not just the agenda -- for the School Committee meetings posted earlier, allowing parents and members of the public more time to prepare for public comment opportunities during the meetings. 

Krintzman has similar ideas in that he hopes to see email lists and websites that give the public more access to information from the schools. In addition, he hopes to bring town hall-style meetings to school buildings, allowing the public to view the condition of the district's aging facilities.

Technology is another focus for Krintzman, something he says needs to be incorporated into the way Newton schools teach as well as how teachers, parents and students communicate. 

Although he does not have a specific plan he is promoting, he says he understands the direction the district needs to take when considering technology for its schools. 

"The key is -- philosophically and from a policy perspective -- our technology needs to be adaptable...a system that allows us to upgrade as needed so we can adapt to the needs of parents and children," Kritnzman says. 

For more details on Krintzman and Fisher-Gomberg, as well as the remainder of the candidates on the ballot Nov. 8, stay tuned to Newton Patch this week and next week for candidate Q&As. Starting Wed., Oct. 26, we will feature individual candidate responses by ward. 

Emily Norton October 24, 2011 at 06:42 PM
Nice summary of the candidates Melanie, thank you.
Charlie Shapiro October 24, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Glad you're covering this. Nice job. Our schools are a centerpiece of our city and this is a contest I'm watching very closely.
Dan Proskauer October 24, 2011 at 07:18 PM
As a resident of Ward 4 and a previous candidate for School Committee from Ward 4 I am very interested in this race. After speaking with both candidates I am supporting Josh Krintzman, but encourage everyone to get to know both and make an informed choice!

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