WORCESTER – The seven candidates for School Committee participated in the candidates forum on Monday night at Mechanics Hall.
The event, sponsored by the Worcester Regional Research Bureau, is a series of forums before the Nov. 7 municipal elections.
School Committee incumbents Brian O’Connell, John Monfredo, Dianna Biancheria, Jack Foley, Donna Colorio and Molly McCullough were joined by the only challenger in the race, Dante Comparetto.
The candidate’s answered many questions ranging from school safety, to diverse hiring and building upgrades. Although none of the candidates took a wide opposing stance on any issue, they all touted their experience on the council the past two years, while Comparetto said his experience as a business owner and community organizer makes him a viable option for School Committee.
“We need to challenge all of our students,” Colorio said when asked about how to address the achievement gap in the Worcester Public Schools. “We need to give them a reason to come to school.”
When it came to funding, all the candidates felt that the state needed to do more with Chapter 70 funding.
“We need a budget that is adequate and equitable,” Monfredo said.
“We need people on the School Committee who can be an advocate at the State House,” Comparetto added.
On the issue of standardized testing, all the candidates agreed that it did not appropriately measure the success of students and schools as a whole. Colorio felt that it took away from the teacher’s ability to educate the students.
“Let the teachers teach,” Colorio said.
In a discussion on vocational education the candidates felt that utilizing the success of Worcester Technical High School increase the opportunities throughout the district
“We need to increase vocational education for all students as well as Chapter 74 funding throughout the district,” McCullough said.
Operationally the candidates agreed that wrap around social services are needed, as well as the possibility of the consolidating services with the City of Worcester.
The candidates have one more forum before the election. It will be hosted by the Citywide Parent Planning Advisory Council. The date and location of that forum has not been announced.