Northborough Candidate Statements – Regional School Board – William Barlow Redfern II

William Barlow Redfern II is a candidate for a seat on the regional school board. (Picture/submitted)

Please provide a brief biography of yourself. What should voters know about you?

Originally from Massachusetts and longtime resident, I moved to Northborough in 2004 with my wife, Danielle. Like many other families, the reputation of the school district played a big role in our decision. In Northborough, we found both a welcoming community and highly rated schools. Simply put, the city has “checked all the boxes” for a young couple making their way into the world. 18 years later, we still love the town and are raising two boys, an eighth grader at Melican and a sophomore at Algonquin. While in town, I served on the Lincoln Street School Board, was an active board member of the Northborough Baseball and Softball Association, and volunteered as a coach for several teams in the Little League and Youth Basketball. Currently employed as IT Director, I have also worked for the past twenty years in Finance and Consulting. I am a graduate of St. Sebastian’s School, have a BA from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from Northeastern University.

Why are you running?

The past two years have been difficult for everyone. For our children and our teachers, they have to make up for lost time. For the parents, there needs to be more engagement with the administration. Talking to other parents in Northborough, there is frustration both about the processes in place to have their voices heard by the school committee and to get information from the administration. I run to help change that dynamic. I want to engage with parents and make sure their concerns have a platform. I also want to make sure that the administration is accountable to parents and residents. The school committee should be the intermediary for transmitting information from the administration to the parents AND from the parents to the administration. This is not working as it should.

What specific skills/experience/expertise would you bring to your role?

My professional career has taken place in consulting, finance and information technology. I also spent time in Northborough at the Lincoln Street School Board and the Northborough Baseball and Softball Board. In each of these positions, I was tasked with building relationships, managing projects and solving problems. Given my background in financial modeling, particularly as it relates to budgets, I hope to develop a way to make the budget process more transparent while also finding a way to publish actual results against budget throughout the process. ‘year. It is important to understand not only how the budget is supposed to be spent, but also how the budgeted dollars are actually spent.

What do you think are the three issues facing schools in Northborough/Southborough?

Post-pandemic issues are the most critical issues facing our students, especially to make up for lost time academically and to ensure that we can also address all mental health issues (especially depression and anxiety) that have arisen. The third issue I see is that many parents and taxpayers feel like they have no say in many of the decisions made by the school board and administration.

How do you plan to address the identified issues facing schools in Northborough/Southborough?

It is essential to bring different points of view into discussions related to the problems facing our schools. First, we need to look at the policies and ways in which parents’ voices can be heard. Second, the composition of a healthy school committee is one that includes diversity of thought. There should be regular turnover on our boards. One or two terms should be more than enough for a member. Regardless of one’s desire to serve the community, being in the same position for multiple terms, which in some cases amounts to decades of service, can lead to complacency and the formation of echo chambers. It is essential that new members from different backgrounds join the committee with a commitment to listening and serving the community.

How do you think schools should deal with potential learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

First, we need to measure how far our students are behind the curriculum they were engaged in during remote and blended learning. Realizing that not everything can be covered, we need to build consensus on areas of focus (eg, math, English, science, etc.). With this information, a training plan that utilizes school resources and teacher professional development can be implemented.

Schools have identified mental health as a concern, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. How should schools in Northborough/Southborough address this issue?

This can be solved in different ways. As someone who has dealt with depression and anxiety throughout my life, I am a strong advocate for eliminating the stigma associated with it. I am also aware of the impact this can have on all aspects of our students’ lives. Training our teachers on how to recognize these signs is essential so that dialogue can be opened with parents and, if necessary, mental health professionals. We also have the ability, through physical education, to introduce things like yoga and mindfulness-based meditation. By doing so, we can easily give our students proven tools to help them deal with mental health issues that also align with the mission of physical education.