GROTON -- A last-minute candidate for an open seat on the North Middlesex Regional School Committee hopes that his youth and enthusiasm will make up for experience if he is elected to replace departing member Arnie Silva.
"I want to run for School Committee because I believe I can bring a fresh new set of eyes to the committee because of my status," said Brian Edmonds, a 19-year-old graduate of the North Middlesex Regional High School class of 2012. "My age and experience within the North Middlesex School District gives me a unique perspective that I believe can be incredibly beneficial to our district."
Edmonds, however, comes to the table not completely bereft of practical experience, having been a student representative to the School Committee in his senior year of high school.
He is an honors student commuting to UMass Boston and majoring in political science.
"As a result of being part of the honors program, I am studying on a full four-year scholarship," said Edmonds. "While a political science major, I am following a pre-law track to prepare myself for law school. During my first two college semesters, I have continued to maintain excellent grades and work ethic and am on the dean's list."
What prompted Edmonds to seek election to the School Committee was strong concern over the fact that the district's schools appear to be losing a significant number of students to other districts.
"Looking at data from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, it is clear that the number of students leaving North Middlesex to attend other schools is rising," said Edmonds, a resident of River Road. "I would like to pinpoint why that is and find a way to fix it so that we can increase our student numbers and receive more funding to benefit the district."
Also on Edmonds' radar is the district's budget and administration, which recently experienced a change in leadership.
"As a student representative during the 2011-2012 school year, I was part of this meticulous process," said Edmonds of the search for a new superintendent. "It was handled with much care and consideration by all involved. While no process is perfect, I think that the committee was incredibly careful when making this colossal decision for our students.
"The school budget is a very important and delicate process," said Edmonds, switching gears. "The key is finding a number that doesn't sacrifice the quality of our students' education but is also reasonable for the taxpayers. I hope to keep our class sizes down but ensure that the number is also practical for all citizens."
Overall, the candidate had little criticism for the School Committee and only wished to bolster its strength on the issues by including himself among their number.
"The current School Committee has worked very hard to deal with the various issues before them," noted Edmonds. "I feel that they have all worked extremely hard to confront the district's problems head on. However, I feel that my unique perspective as a recent graduate will truly benefit the district when making the monumental decisions that they are faced with."
Other issues were also of concern to Edmonds, including plans to build a new high school.
"Our district is currently facing decisions about the scheduling at our high school and the prospect of building a new high school building," noted Edmonds. "Both decisions potentially affect thousands of our students and citizens. Having recently been a student and still residing in Pepperell, I think that I can help the committee come to decisions that will benefit our community as a whole."
In the meantime, however, Edmonds' campaign faces a challenge in that he has come to the election process late.
"My decision (to run for School Committee) was one that I have been thinking about for quite some time," admitted Edmonds. "I decided I would run in mid-March. However the deadline for submitting nomination paperwork had passed, so I decided that there will always be other elections. When the town clerk's office produced a sample ballot and no one was listed as running for the position, I contacted the clerk's office. Because no one else had expressed any interest, I feel that this is an ample opportunity for me to step up and give back to my community."
As for the man he would be replacing if successful, Edmonds had only kind words to say about Silva.
"He will be greatly missed by the committee," remarked Edmonds.
Those interested in pulling the lever in support of Edmonds' candidacy can do so on April 30, when town elections are scheduled to be held.