Candidate Announcement: Michelle Ayer & Jen Benham for School Committee

April 28, 2023 By Michelle Ayer and Jen Benham

Hello Hingham Anchor Community,

Michelle Ayer and Jen Benham are seeking re-election to the Hingham School Committee and while our race is uncontested, we humbly ask for your vote on Saturday, April 29.

There have been many challenges over the past several years — leadership changes, a global pandemic, budget crises, building of a new elementary school to replace Foster — but these challenges strengthened our commitment to our schools and our community.

One of the most significant challenges of the past decade has been the chronic underfunding of our schools. While schools were level funded, they were not adequately funded. Prior to the pandemic, school leadership identified achievement gaps and explained that the needs of students were increasing and level service funding meant those needs were not being met.

When the global pandemic hit, everyone felt the effects — anxiety, loneliness, uncertainty, stress — but our children carried an additional burden with the loss of in-person instruction, social connections, and access to arts and athletics during their most formative years. There is a cost to this.

We were fortunate those costs were covered with federal grants and rainy day funds for two years which defrayed the cost to taxpayers. The availability of these funds also provided district leadership and the School Committee time to analyze data, identify efficiencies, reallocate resources, increase fees, establish a three year strategic plan, and perform a comprehensive staffing audit to ensure appropriate staffing levels. Thousands of hours were dedicated to this work and the end result was a school budget proposal that requires funding to efficiently and effectively meet the needs of all students.

At the recommendation of town leadership, it was determined the school funding needs—along with increasing municipal needs —would require the override ballot question proposed at the election this Saturday (April 29).

We all recognize this override is a significant investment and that the current economic landscape is challenging.

At the same time, we must also all recognize that we have to catch up from years of underfunding and unmet needs; that we have an obligation to the children in our care and a shared commitment to our community.

We have all faced numerous challenges these past few years, but Jen and Michelle are incredibly optimistic about the future of our Hingham Public Schools and are committed to the work ahead. With our amazing faculty and staff, committed leadership team, engaged families, and supportive community we can all continue to work together to propel our students forward.

We ask for your two votes for re-election to the School Committee and for the proposed override on Saturday, April 29.

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