GROTON -- Alarmed at the recent revelations surrounding the financial stability of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District, candidate Jeffrey Kubick felt compelled to put his oar in the water and seek election to the School Committee.
"Like many parents, while I have been engaged in my children's education and school experience, I have not been as plugged in to how the schools are run, funded and overseen," explained Kubick. "The recent budget crisis changed that. It became clear to me how important it is to be involved in the decisions which determine whether our schools are great or just average.
"I joined with other concerned citizens to help launch Advocates for Promoting Educational Excellence (APEX), a coalition supporting policies to improve education in Groton and Dunstable," he said.
An active member at the Union Congregational Church, Kubick has served on and chaired several committees there and in the past few years, has coached U6 and U8 youth soccer in town as well as volunteering in the schools.
"I've lived in Massachusetts nearly all my life, growing up in Stow and graduating from Nashoba Regional High School," said Kubick. "I have a BA from Bates College, and earned a MBA from Babson College, graduating with highest honors."
The father of three children in the school system, second- and third-graders Anna and Ellie at Florence Roche and kindergartner Mary, Kubick is employed as vice president of marketing at DSCI, a regional business telecommunications service provider based in Waltham.
The resident of Boston Road said, "We need to invest in programs and services which provide the best educational outcomes. Over several years, the district has made cuts which I believe have compromised the overall quality of education in Groton and Dunstable. These cuts, which have increased class sizes, eliminated foreign languages at the elementary level, and reduced support services for classroom teachers, should be revisited.
"I always keep in mind that the investments we make in education primarily come from taxpayers," Kubick hastened to add. "We need to make sure we are spending wisely to ensure that those investments will make a Groton-Dunstable education one of the best in the state.
"I would also like to work with the new superintendent to restore stability, accountability and morale throughout the district," Kubick said. "In the short time since my girls have started school, there have been three superintendents and three different principals at FloRo. And each year, there has been talk of cuts and layoffs. The ship needs to be stabilized so we can begin moving forward again.
"My wife Krista and I chose to move to Groton primarily based on the reputation of the schools," said Kubick. "Everything else that's great about Groton was icing on the cake. I truly believe that strengthening our schools will make our town stronger."
Realizing the seriousness of the school district's recently announced shortfall, the candidate has embraced the idea of a debt exclusion for the new Center Fire Station.
"I support both the fire station debt exclusion and taxing up to the levy limit, but I wouldn't say that I'm comfortable with it," said Kubick. "Unfortunately, this is the situation we've gotten into, and we need to get out of it without making things worse.
"There is an opportunity to take a fresh look at how the district operates and how it delivers education on many different levels and areas," Kubick said. "Any decisions based on changes in enrollment need to look at long-term trends, and should ensure that we end up with a better educational experience and not just a less expensive one.
"At this point, we should put the shortfall behind us and begin moving forward again," said Kubick. "But we must make sure that the lessons from this experience are not forgotten, and that we build appropriate oversight and controls into the process to ensure it does not happen again ... ever.
"We need both sustainable revenue sources and sustainable cost structures. The biggest challenges we've had recently are reductions in the funding we receive from the state, and certain costs, such as special education, over which the district has little control. We need to examine ways to get greater control over these costs such as providing more special-education services in-district, which could save on tuition and transportation costs."
As for education itself, Kubick said he supported various state and federal programs such as Common Core currently being implemented in the schools.
"I think that standards and testing that allow benchmarking and assessment are valuable as one tool to be used in measuring the overall education of a child," said Kubick. "Having common standards for education across districts and states provides a way to measure performance and progress and helps to evaluate whether our investments in education are producing results. These programs do come at a higher cost, but I believe the data they provide is worth it.
"At the same time, we must be careful not to focus solely on test results," cautioned Kubick. "They measure parts of the overall education of the child, but don't do a good job of capturing intangibles such as the impact and value of music, art and drama on the development of the child."
Another challenge facing the district is that of declining enrollment and the difficulty explaining to taxpayers why spending continues to go up even as the number of students goes down.
"We need to make sure we take the long view on enrollment trends to make sure we do not take action to save money in the short-term that will damage educational progress or end up costing us more money in the future," said Kubick. "I would like to examine opportunities to reallocate resources freed up due to a smaller student body to additional programs which enrich and improve educational results."
Despite declining enrollment however, Kubick said he supported continued reductions in class size.
"Class size does matter," said Kubick. "It is challenging for any one adult to teach and keep on task 25 to 30 young children with different skill levels and learning styles. To make sure we are serving all children well, we need look at ways to reduce class sizes and provide support personnel for teachers where needed.
"In spite of our current difficulties, I see the opportunity for a much brighter future for both our schools and our town," concluded Kubick. "Our schools are staffed with dedicated and caring professionals. I believe the majority of our citizens want strong and vibrant schools. They also want to make sure that their tax dollars are being looked after and invested wisely.
"I will work hard to make sure we are getting a positive return on each dollar we invest in our schools," he said. "I don't have answers for every challenge we face, but I will look for solutions which deliver the vision of great schools for our kids. A great town like Groton deserves great schools."