WINCHESTER — Current school board chair and Winchester resident of 11 years, Karen Maruyama Bolognese, is up for re-election to the school board. She has served on the committee for the past three years, including as chair and vice-chair.
According to Bolognese, it takes time and effort for a member to build relationships with school and government organizations and to understand the issues and nuances. Two of his three years of service were spent in the pandemic.
She added that “as we emerge from this, I am running for re-election to bring consistency, thoughtful leadership and the knowledge I have gained to help our district focus on long-term planning. and enable all of our children to reach their full potential.”
If re-elected, she would like to help improve communication with the community at large so that all stakeholders and taxpayers can learn more about the wonderful work the administration and educators do for students every day. The district uses multiple sources of data and assessments to review programming and initiatives. She would like to use this approach to see where they need improvement and prioritize the needs so they can direct their resources in the most thoughtful and effective way. An example of this is working with Winchester, MA Parent Advisory Council for Special Education (WinPAC) for a better understanding of early literacy.
She wants the school system to allow every student to reach their full potential, because every child is unique and learns and reacts differently. She added that schools need to support educators and students in a lifetime of learning and growth. It is important to bring many perspectives and set an example in the city for the inclusion and collaboration that the city seeks in its schools.
During her experiences as President and Vice President, she has worked to lead a collaborative and thoughtful team and process, driving sustainable policies, curriculum, and financial accountability. In all of these initiatives, she made an effort to listen to the diverse ideas and experiences of the community. She believes this strengthens the decision-making process and a healthier school system.
She advocated for fiscal responsibility with a long-term strategic vision. At $58 million, the school’s budget is by far the largest item in the city’s budget. She is proud that every budget she has presented during her tenure has been thoroughly scrutinized and fiscally accountable. The budget is representative of community values, so Winchester must continue to fund the programs necessary to remain a high-performing district. She believes it is essential to have experienced leaders on the committee who understand revenue sources, issues and budget constraints and who can work closely with city leaders.
She noted that the city has strong support for school projects. In particular, she talks about the new Lynch School and the long-term strategy for Muraco School. They are well advanced in the multi-year Lynch project with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, reviewing site options for the new school and designing a building that best reflects community needs in the most cost-effective way. Bolognese will continue to support the voices of families and residents to lead the city through a new Lynch in 2025.
The main problem facing the school district is dealing with the global pandemic. She commented that none of them could have ever imagined that they would be facing a pandemic for two of the last three years or that they would need to provide more social-emotional support than ever to help students. out of this pandemic. They increased support for students by hiring a Dean of Student Life, as well as additional nurses, counselors, and programs for all-level and developing students. She is proud of the work that has been done, but the work needed to fully recover from this pandemic is not done.
They must ensure that fiscal responsibility, a strong curriculum, and diverse and inclusive schools are the foundation of post-pandemic student life. She will also continue to support and advocate for long term district planning and responsible budgeting to ensure the needs of children are met so that the community can come out of these COVID years better than before. .
As for the Winchester community, Bolognese said it is a diverse and engaged community. She has served since 2011 on Town Meeting and for 11 years in parent associations at all levels, working with people from different backgrounds on multiple projects and events. She added that it is essential that Winchester listens to the voices of the community and makes balanced and well-informed decisions. She also mentioned that in schools, children have many different life experiences and the city needs to provide the access and support they need to succeed to their full potential.
Bolognese is the only woman of color on the school board, and as a mother of three in elementary, middle, and high school, she brings a unique perspective and understanding to the board in terms of diversity, inclusion, and belonging. . She noted that it starts with listening, caring, respecting all points of view, working collaboratively, and understanding how to navigate school and government organizations.
She believes the city needs experience more than ever. With planning for Lynch School’s reconstruction, a long-term strategic vision, and helping students recover from the pandemic, the success of students and the school system depends on caring and informed leadership. She hopes the people of Winchester will take her experience, vision and deep understanding of how to get things done in the school system into account when voting this election season.