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Meet the Candidates: School Committee [POLL]

Deniz Savas, Phillip Lynch and Christopher McMahon Jr. are running for the two open positions.

The annual Town Election will be held Tuesday, April 24. Polls will be open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Norton High School. Incumbent Deniz Savas is seeking re-election while Phillip Lynch and Christopher McMahon Jr. are vying for the two available seats on the School Committee.

Norton Patch sent out a questionnaire to candidates. While responses are unedited from Lynch and Savas, McMahon’s answers are from interview notes due to technological issues.

Background on candidates
Phillip J. Lynch
Age: 37
Wife: Stephanie
Son: Connor (7) attends JCS Elementary School
Moved to Norton 3+ years ago; Volunteer with Norton Youth Baseball; Stephanie involved extensively with the JCS SPO.
Career focused on corporate banking/financial analysis at various institutions; Last 5+ years employed at Bank of America as a vice president in corporate debt products. Primary focus is on capital allocation, negotiation, financial/budget analysis.

Deniz Savas
Age: 43
I’ve lived in Norton for almost 5 years now.  I work as an Equity Trader for Columbia Management.  I am married (Michelle) with two girls (Malia 6 and Rylan 3).

Christopher McMahon Jr.
Age: 19
Christopher, also known as CJ, has lived in Norton for nine years. Previously he lived in Dedham. He currently works at his family’s restaurant, and is a 911 dispatcher. He went to Bridgewater State University for a degree in Political Science.

Why are you running for school committee?
LYNCH: While looking for homes in 2008, my family was immediately taken aback by the sense of community exhibited by the residents of Norton with which we had the opportunity to interact.  This sense of community was the ultimate factor in our decision to establish roots in Norton.  In our relatively short time in Norton, we have been fortunate to meet amazing individuals who have dedicated their time and energy in service to this community.  Similar to these individuals, my election to seek a spot on the school committee is primarily rooted in a desire to serve the community and in a strong belief that each child deserves the opportunities afforded by a solid educational background.

SAVAS: I am running for re-election because I want to continue to improve our schools and ensure that our children receive the best possible education given our resources.  We have been able to accomplish a number of goals during my tenure on the committee, and I want to continue to move our district forward.  We still have a lot to do.  We need to complete the renovation of our high school, we will be hiring a new superintendent, and we will likely have to continue to find creative ways to provide our children with a top tier education while having to maintain a fiscally responsible budget.  I have 2 young children and I want to make sure that they attend exemplary schools.  And I want to make sure that those schools have access to the necessary resources to move this district forward.

MCMAHON: While he hasn’t been involved in public office, McMahon participated in Student Council and the Norton Community Taskforce. He enjoys being involved in the community and this is one more way he can serve the town he lives in.

What School or Committee issues do you think should be addressed?
LYNCH: The major continuing issue for our school system is its ability to provide a high quality education despite continuing cutbacks in state funding and a level spending budget.  While inflation has impacted the cost of everything from food to lumber, we have tasked our school administrators with providing a valuable education with the same budget that was in place six years ago.  It is imperative that administrators and committee members continue to advocate on behalf of improved funding and reimbursement rates while remaining fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of Norton.

SAVAS:  I think the main issue for our district as we go forward will continue to be keeping teachers in the classrooms.  It’s no secret that Norton’s budget doesn’t have a lot of pork built into it.  I’m actually proud of how much we can do with so little sometimes.  But we need to keep focused on our number one goal, and that is a top tier education.  The single best way to do that is to keep our dedicated and hard working teachers in the classrooms and in front of our children.  But we can’t do that if we don’t fund our budget at a level that keeps pace with rising costs.  Without a doubt, that will be our single most pressing issue over the coming years.

MCMAHON: McMahon believes that Norton Public School District is heading in the right direction. One factor the Committee will have to face, however, is the hiring of the new superintendent and integrating him or her into the community.

Why should people vote for you?
LYNCH: My goal is to serve the community of Norton to the best of my ability.  I feel that I have the necessary set of professional and interpersonal skills required to responsibly address the current and potential needs of the school district.  As a father of a Norton student and a taxpayer in the town, I have a personal interest in the continued success of our school system along with an interest in ensuring our tax dollars are spent responsibly.  

SAVAS: Over the last three years I believe I have been a positive factor on Norton schools and hope to continue to serve in that capacity.  We have been able to offer a top quality education each year while being faced with significant budget hurdles.  In addition to maintaining a high quality education, we were successful in moving forward with a much needed renovation project on the high school which will also include an addition.  And most importantly, we have been able to keep teachers in front of students, where they belong.  Along with the other members of the School Committee, I have worked diligently to achieve these goals.  With the support of the citizens of Norton, I will continue to do so.

MCMAHON: While some may view his age as a negative, McMahon has a fresh perspective of what’s going on in the schools, having graduated from Norton High School in 2010.

“I have the best understanding of what schools need and how policies work,” McMahon said.

As previously mentioned, McMahon has been in school programs such as Students Against Destructive Decisions. His recent experiences in the schools allow him to make suggestions on what could be changed. His main goal, however, is to get students more involved in the community and get the community more involved with the schools. He wants people to have a bigger voice.

“I would like to be that voice,” he said.

Reader question: More should be done for special education kids.  Do you have any ideas for that?
LYNCH: As I am not familiar with each of the services provided and more importantly the developmental needs of our special education students, I think it would be irresponsible for me to suggest specific programs.  The Norton school district has committed and experienced professionals dedicated to the educational progress of our special education students and it is their knowledge and backgrounds that should be leveraged to identify and implement structural changes.  It is our responsibility to support these professionals and ensure that they have the tools necessary to serve the needs of all of our special education students in district.    

SAVAS: Every student deserves our best effort to provide them with an education that prepares them to excel.  The challenge we face is finding a way to accomplish that goal while operating within our budget.  Using an inclusion model whenever possible allows a child to remain with their peers, while getting the benefit of not only a general educator, but also a specialist who is an expert in strategies for that particular child’s needs.  And additionally, our district is able to keep costs lower than if we were to use outside sources.  It allows our children to stay within their community, maintaining continuity in their education.  If we can accomplish these goals, we get 2 distinct benefits.  First, we can use any cost savings to supplement current programs and initiatives.  Second, we foster a greater sense of both community and support for parents of special education children.       

MCMAHON: While he doesn’t know enough about the program, McMahon does believe the special education program can move forward and grow. He would be able to better comment on the subject if he is allowed to study it at a closer level.

Trot Nixon April 23, 2012 at 05:04 PM
What I would like to see from the School Committee is for the committee to not be the "yes man" for the superintendent on every issue. Everything Dr. Ansay wanted, she got, no debate from the SC. So I would like to see new blood on the board, especially with a new school chief being brought in.

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