Two novice candidates are looking to start their elective careers on the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee this Election Day, Jeff Kubick and Brian LeBlanc.
Given the amount of public concern over the last six months about budget problems in several years’ district budgets and financial oversight by the School Committee, combined with incumbent Jon Sjoberg’s decision not to run for another term, it’s not surprising that this race features newcomers to the Groton political landscape. Somewhat surprising is that there are only two candidates running for Groton’s single open seat. A third, Gina Cronin, a founder of Advocates Promoting Educational Excellence (APEX), was actually the first person to pull nominating petitions from the Town Clerk’s office this spring, but did not return them.
Groton has five seats on the regional board; each is a three-year term. Groton’s other committee members are John Giger, Leslie Lathrop, Alison Manugian, and Thomas Steinfeld.
The Groton Line Candidate Questionnaire
|Office||G-D Regional School Committee||G-D Regional School Committee|
|Are you the incumbent office holder?||No||No|
|Candidate address||501A Boston Rd||2 Integrity Way|
|Phone||(978) 448-2589||(978) 448-3676|
|Web site URL||www.jeffkubick.com||http://www.brianleblanc.com|
|How old are you?||45||32|
|What year did you become a Groton resident?||2003||2013|
|Party affiliation||Democratic Party||Undeclared|
|Academic degrees / training -- please enter one per line.||Bates College, B.A. in Political Science|
Babson College, M.B.A. with Marketing concentration
|B.S. Computer Science and Information Systems, University of Vermont|
|If you're currently employed, what is your "day job" or vocation(s)?||I am the Vice President of Marketing at DSCI, a regional telecommunications service provider||Software Engineer, Demandware, Inc.|
|Family information -- married, divorced, number of kids, etc.||Married to Krista Kubick for 12 years. Three daughters: Anna, 9, Ellie, 7, and Mary, 5.||Married for seven years to Elizabeth LeBlanc, son Ethan is 2 years old.|
|Please outline your experience in the public sector or community service, including elective or appointed offices.||Over the past six years, I have served as a member or chair of several committees at the Union Congregation Church in Groton, including the governing body of the church. I have also volunteered in the schools and as a coach for G-D Youth Soccer.||I was elected to the board of trustees of my homeowners association for five years in Chelmsford. I am currently a member of the scholarship committee in Groton.|
|What personal quality do you think is your strongest asset?||Having a sense of humor while still taking things seriously.||I feel that my strongest personal asset that I would leverage on the school committee is my ability to work well with others. I feel that I am very good at understanding the opinions and feelings of others which is critical to working successfully as a team.|
|Why did you decide to run for this office?||As I learned about the school budget shortfall and cuts, I wanted to be part of the solution. I joined with other concerned citizens to help launch Advocates for Promoting Educational Excellence (APEX), a coalition supporting policies to improve education in Groton and Dunstable. I saw the School Committee opening as an opportunity to be more directly involved in the fight for truly great schools. I felt my business, management, and communications experience could help translate a strong vision of excellence in our district into action. Groton is a great town, and it deserves great schools.||I found it interesting that there was little interest in the race for school committee despite the recent issues. I had planned on running for school committee after living in Groton longer but I decided to enter the race based on the current circumstances. Education has always been very important to me and I would like to see the schools in Groton be among the best in the state. I feel that our children deserve the best education we are capable of providing to them.|
|What is the single most important issue facing the town and how would you address it from this office? OR What is the most important issue facing this board?||The School Committee needs to work with all stakeholder to define a vision of excellence for our schools, and begin the work of translating that vision into reality by investing wisely in people, programs, and services.||I feel that the school district needs to regain its credibility in the two member communities. The recent budget issue raised serious questions about the school district's ability to manage its budget. The school committee is ultimately responsible and should be held accountable for everything that occurs within the district.|
|How would you improve or contribute to the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee's budget process?||We need to return to a process where discussions on educational and financial priorities begin earlier in the year, and are expanded in order to build consensus among all stakeholders, including town officials, parents, and staff. Additionally, the budget process does not end once a budget is passed. There needs to be ongoing monitoring of budget vs. actual spending to ensure any problems are addressed early on.||I'm obviously not very familiar with the current budgetary process since I have not worked within the school district and I have never served on the school committee. What I will say is that I would make sure that the director of business and finance have all the necessary tools available to him. There is $35m in state funding and local tax dollars at stake every year in the school budget. I would also be an advocate for attracting and retaining high quality administration. A lot of people are skeptical regarding the cost of administration. I feel that it is foolish for the town of Groton to contribute $18m annually to the schools if we don't have high quality administration and provide them with the tools necessary to be successful.|
|What other issues are important and how would you address them?||1) Revisit several years of cuts which have compromised the overall quality of education in Groton and Dunstable|
2) Build appropriate oversight and controls over the district's budgeting and financial processes to ensure the recent budgeting errors do not happen againâ€”ever!
3) Rebuild trust in the school committee and administration through accountability, improved management practices, and better communication
|I feel that the school district needs to demonstrate its performance to the citizens of the two member communities. It's extremely difficult to gain support from the tax payers if they don't see where their contributions are going. I would like to create a culture of transparency and accountability.|
|Does Town Meeting have a role in setting town policy or strategic direction, or is that solely up to the affected elected board? Can the BoS or other elected boards ignore articles and directions approved in Town Meeting?||I don't believe Town Meeting is an appropriate venue for setting town or school district policy or strategy. Those discussions require time and consideration by the appropriate boards. If done right, they involve input from citizens, transparency, and outreach to communicate decisions before getting to any votes at Town Meeting.|
There may be situations where unforeseen or urgent circumstances cause an elected board to delay implementing a Town Meeting article, but I think that any permanent reversal or delay should be put back before Town Meeting voters for approval.
|What, if anything, should be done about increasing revenue from tax-exempt entities, who make voluntary gifts or PILOTs to the town and/or the school district?||While there's little or nothing the town or school district can do to compel these organizations to make payments to the town or schools, we need to work with them to close the gap between existing PILOT payments and the cost of services the town provides. I believe this work should begin with the town manager and Board of Selectmen.|
It may be possible for the state legislature to act to allow municipalities to levy a PILOT payment on these organizations, and I understand that there is legislation pending to do that.
|What else would you tell Groton voters?||I believe the vast majority of our citizens want strong and vibrant schools. They also want to make sure that their tax dollars are being looked after and invested wisely. I will work hard to make sure we are getting a positive return on each dollar we invest in our schools. I donâ€™t have answers for all the challenges we face, but will work with all parties to find a solution which moves our district toward excellence.|
I ask for your vote on May 20th.
|Our family moved to Groton about a year ago based on the strong reputation of the public schools and because we were told by others that this was a great place to raise a family. I'd like to bring my passion for education, my desire to serve the community, and my leadership ability to the school committee. I want to make Groton an even better place to live and I'd like to work with other members of the community who feel the same way.|