CANDIDATE ANSWERS: Kim Hunt, candidate for Plymouth School Committee

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The Manomet Current recently posted a series of questions for the candidates for school committee and the board of selectmen. They will be presented in the order they are received.

What steps would you take to improve fields and playgrounds at Plymouth schools?

We are so fortunate to have amazing fields at Plymouth North High School and will have equally great fields at South High School in the next few years. Both middle school fields are in need of work. As for the playgrounds we have a wide range of playgrounds throughout the district. Some great, some bad and some in dire need of some TLC. I  have worked on playground projects in the past and am aware and have access to many resources to help schools improve their playground. Many companies offer matching grants to PTAs or parent groups. The parent groups in our community have done amazing things for our schools including improving playgrounds. There is so much more to making a playground suitable for schools now. Safety is the biggest concern. The ground covering needs to be made of a certain material which needs to be replenished every so often. Most need to be handicap accessible. This is all very costly. Some PTA’s have run very successful fundraisers for their playgrounds. I am also working with the USDA’s  Fuel up to Play 60 program. One school is piloting it and it is a grant that will be given to schools to promote physical activity and a healthy breakfast. Hopefully the other schools will follow suit.

Should the School Committee review its anti-bullying policy? What changes would you make to it?

The school committee is in process of reviewing its anti-bullying policy. It is aligned to the state policy. What we need the look into is the implementation of the policy and if all the schools are following the same policy. I don’t necessarily think the policy is the issue. We need to educate our students and parents on the subject. I am more of a fan of programs vs presentations. One shot presentations are fun and entertaining but we need year long programs worked into the curriculum. PCIS has a school ambassador program where students are mentors and role models. Schools should share these ideas and programs with each other.

With PARCC and other standardized student assessments being introduced, do you think Plymouth students are being tested too much, too little or just the right amount?

I think assessments are necessary to evaluate students and determine placement as well as identify students that need acceleration or intervention. That being said, I am not a fan of tests that pressure students and teachers. I think a lot of this is in the delivery. The new Standards are meant to promote critical thinking and depth of knowledge  , thus hoping to eliminate the concept of teaching to the test. This hopefully will eliminate much of the stress. I like programs like the senior project that has been introduced to the high schools a few years ago which is used as an authentic assessment tool. Students are  required to do a project on a subject of their choice and produce a product, paper and presentation.

What do you think about the elementary school report card? How would you change it?

The elementary report card is very detailed and comprehensive and is a great tool. As a parent I like to have all that information.  But…it is very tedious and time consuming for our teachers. I know it is a lot of work and a struggle to get them all done. I would like to see if there is some way we could streamline or automate the process.  I would also like to see the teachers share their ideas and best practices when completing them.

What would be your primary goal as a school committee member over the next three years?

My primary goal is to increase communication between the parents, teachers and community. I am in the process of evaluating the school committee website as well as other tools and programs to see what is the best way to communicate. I have always had a virtual “open door” as a school committee member and hope that parents, teachers and community members can approach me with any concerns I will always try to get to the real answer. We have have had a couple of forums with two way communication on hot topics and we will continue to have more. As we work towards a new Strategic Plan for the district, communication is an underlying theme.  As a former National  PTA Board Memeber and State PTA President I believe parent involvement is extremely important and the communication with parents, schools and community is the most important avenue to involving parents.

Candidates for school committee can find The Manomet Current’s questions here.

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