The Town of Wellesley depends on the active participation of its citizens in governance of the Town. Wellesley has 11 Boards and Committees on the ballot at the Annual Town election each year in March. The 2020 election will be held on March 17.
Catherine Mirick is one three candidates running for the two open three-year terms on the School Committee. The five-member School Committee is made up of local residents. Like other town boards, members of the School Committee receive no payment for their volunteer services. The Committee’s responsibilities are to develop and manage school policies; support the allocation of resources by overseeing budget and facilities; hire and review the superintendent of schools; and advocate for the school district.
We invited the candidates to answer a few questions about their qualifications and their priorities for the Town of Wellesley. Below are candidate Catherine Mirick’s answers. The other two candidates’ Q & As appeared in previous posts.
The Swellesley Report: What is your background and what qualifies you for this position?
Catherine Mirick: A resident of Wellesley since 2000, my years of leadership and service in Wellesley PTOs, town government, and community organizations have prepared me well for a position on the Wellesley School Committee. My two kids are the beneficiaries of our wonderful school system and I am excited for the opportunity to give back by putting my time, talents, and experience to work for the Wellesley Public Schools. Since my oldest child started at Sprague in 2006, I have worked with the PTOs at each school, including being asked to lead as Co-President at Sprague in 2011, WMS in 2014, and WHS in 2018. I know how to work with Wellesley kids, families, teachers and administration, and I’ve learned how to balance needs and resources.
I have been a Town Meeting member since I was first elected in 2009, a role that has given me exposure to our town government and sparked my desire to do more. From my time on Town Meeting, I have learned how the complicated structure of Wellesley’s boards and committees works and what it takes to get major projects completed.
The School Committee needs experienced, balanced leadership to move forward with implementing the new strategic plan and to get schools built. As a leader I bring people together, listen to all viewpoints, collaborate, build consensus and then move forward to get projects done. I believe that sort of leadership is what we need on the School Committee now.
SW: If elected, what do you hope to accomplish on the School Committee?
Catherine Mirick: The three priorities I would have as a member of School Committee would be to focus on excellence in education, to ensure fiscal responsibility, and to build elementary schools.
Wellesley has a great public school system. It attracts people to our town, sets our kids on successful paths into adulthood, and keeps our property values high. We need to continue to move forward towards implementing a curriculum that supports the tenets of our Profile of a Graduate, emphasizes social and emotional learning, and creates 21st century learners.
Approximately 80% of the WPS budget comes from Wellesley tax dollars. We need to use these funds wisely. The school committee must work diligently with the administration to find ways to use funds efficiently, economizing where we can without compromising our educational goals.
The town of Wellesley has been studying what to do about our decaying elementary schools since 2012, when my now college-age daughter was in 3rd grade. We need to move ahead and get schools built so that our amazing teachers can educate our young students in safe, educationally appropriate, and energy efficient spaces as soon as possible. I look forward to working with the community as an active listener and consensus builder to get new schools built to replace Hardy, Hunnewell & Upham (HHU).
SW: What is your hot-button issue?
Catherine Mirick: The obvious answer to this question is rebuilding Hardy, Hunnewell & Upham, but I think it is critical to remember the broad responsibilities of School Committee. This year’s enrollment report shows that WPS has 4,738 students. Approximately 700 of them are currently enrolled at Hardy, Hunnewell, or Upham. That leaves more than 4,000 kids that are not in HHU schools.
As a district, we need to focus on our core values and continue to work with our students to strive for academic excellence, deepen a commitment to community, respect human differences, and build cooperative & caring relationships every day, in every school, with every student.