Marblehead Beacon School Committee Questionnaire - Joseph Patuleia
Regardless of whether you are appointed to fill the current vacancy, do you plan to seek election to the School Committee during municipal elections this coming June 2023?
I am not really looking ahead to June 2023, as I will be focused on:
- Working with the superintendent regarding the challenges for the upcoming budget, and balancing the concerns of the taxpayers with the needs of Marblehead students, teachers and principals
- Supporting solutions to the non-budgetary challenges that teachers and principals face every day
If I think I helped move the needle for educational excellence in Marblehead, I will consider it.
What aspects of your background or experience best prepare you to serve on the School Committee?
There are two that immediately come to mind:
- Budgetary Experience
The town of Marblehead has a responsibility to provide the best education for its children and to do so for the most reasonable cost. That is the town’s charge to the School Committee and their responsibility.
I have worked with small communities of 1200 students to large cities of almost 8,000 youth. I have worked closely with School Committees in the never-ending struggle to provide the best for students at a cost the community decides they can afford. My experience has helped schools get what they need from within the budget, and sometimes from sources outside.
I find that taxpayers can sometimes get frustrated when they do not have the details and the rationale regarding budget items. If they vote for it, or if they don’t, there can be a disconnect and likely little support either way, as opposed to strong support if they understand the information regarding the budget item. It becomes a no-win for them, and a no-win for the school system. My experience has helped taxpayers answer questions, such as
- What is this specific funding for?
- How does it help the education and development of our youth?
- Is this a unique item for our school system, or do other near or comparable to Marblehead, have it?
- Is there another, less costly way, to achieve it?
- What do students lose if it is not funded?
- What will be the tax implication for the town?
Taxpayers need details to make a decision and feel good about understanding the need for the item, whether they vote for it or not. It is our responsibility to provide those details for that understanding.
- Educator Experience
I know schools. I come to this position with a deep toolbox filled with experiences from my years as a teacher and a principal. I can help the school committee and the superintendent solve some of their challenges while supporting effective communication with the town, its children and the educational staff.
I also come with a fresh pair of eyes. The challenges of public education today are enormous. Besides teaching curricula to help our students succeed in life, our staff have to make sure they are safe, physically and emotionally. Marblehead educators don’t just need budget support to help the town’s youth, they need parental and town support when they tackle tough issues both individually and collectively.
My experience can help the School Committee and Superintendent support the staff, and thereby, our kids.
What do you believe are the most significant strengths and weaknesses of the current school administration?
I think one of the significant strengths is the quality of the staff. I have found them to be dedicated, caring and truly concerned about the success of their students, as well as their growth as human beings. But this quality doesn’t just happen. It needs to be nurtured and supported by the administrative leaders---from the department heads to the principals and the superintendent. A strong environmental culture exists.
I am not aware of any major weaknesses right now, but two concerns that likely exist in the school system, as they exist throughout the country, are school safety and resources for students who have severe challenges in their personal life that affect their school life. Whatever our protocols are for these concerns, they should be reviewed twice a year and adjusted where necessary.
What are your top priorities if you are appointed to the School Committee?
Besides addressing the challenges as I mentioned in my answer to Question #1 above, I believe that there are three top priorities:
- Work with the Superintendent to develop a detailed Action Plan to measure the progress of the goals in the Strategic Plan. By an Action Plan, I mean one with details and metrics of each stage of each goal such as what will be accomplished, by what specific date, led by which specific person, and the measure of how successful it was. The current set of Outcomes are excellent but only have their expected completion date, June 30, 2026. Sharing the successful completion of each stage of the goal will be very positive and provide accountability to the school community.
- Support the Superintendent, the Staff and their efforts to carry out the responsibilities of being an educator in this unsettled time of Post-Pandemic Education. We are in uncharted waters and there is no going back, so support for the educators is key if we are to be as successful in the future, as we have been in the past.
- Support the town in raising its level of confidence in the Marblehead School System, the School Committee and its enthusiasm for the “Pursuit of Excellence” in our schools. We have a very good system. Why not make it great?