March 28, 2022 Submitted by Matt LeBretton
About 20 years ago, when my wife, Michelle, and I were looking for our first home, we knew Hingham was where we wanted to be – but as a young couple we couldn’t quite pull it off. Six years later, my then-pregnant wife, Michelle, my 2-year-old daughter and I moved to Hingham, making that dream our wonderful reality. Now, 13 years later with three kids, demanding jobs, volunteer responsibilities and 5 different schedules, we could not picture our family living anywhere else. We are very fortunate.
While I didn’t grow up in Hingham, I am extraordinarily proud to call my home this community that comes together to work diligently, thoughtfully and collaboratively to tackle the big questions and work towards solutions. This pride, my aspiration to give back to this community, and my desire to make a difference for our children are the motivations for my campaign for Hingham School Committee.
Before I get too far, I want to thank both the past and the present public servants of the Hingham School Committee. Likewise, to the hundreds of other volunteers who tirelessly lend their talents to keep our town running. I would also like to recognize Nes Correnti, Aly Anderson and Matt Cosman, who join me in volunteering their services for election to the Hingham School Committee this year. Voters can select up to three candidates on their ballots this Spring, and I encourage everyone to do just that.
As a lawyer and strategic advisor, I have an aptitude for working collaboratively through difficult situations to find an agreeable solution. I believe Hingham would be better served as we move forward with the challenges and opportunities facing our schools, with more diversity of opinion. As a small business owner, a volunteer, and a father of three kids each attending a different Hingham Public School (Hingham High School, Hingham Middle School and South Elementary School), I have a unique perspective to help Hingham Public Schools and I will respectfully challenge the status quo and thinking in order to achieve better and different outcomes so we can exceed (not just meet) the needs of all students.
When people tackle hard problems from the same perspective, they will likely see unanimity, but to really make a difference, we need different ideas, solutions and viewpoints. For example, taking another look at special education, and how the services are delivered. I believe there are more potential solutions to explore, including what services could be provided in-district, minimizing the need for as many out-of-district placements. This could provide long-term cost savings while keeping kids close to home. I applaud the School Building Committee and the School Committee for recognizing that the new Foster Elementary School building plans include classroom space for kids with varied learning disabilities. We’ve come a long way servicing the needs of this community, but there is still more to do.
By state law, one of the main priorities of the School Committee is to set priorities based on the budget approved at Town Meeting. Our school budget makes up 65 percent of the overall town budget. The School Committee has the responsibility to provide effective leadership, better communication and transparency on key issues surrounding the management of the budget, potential debt exclusions and overrides, and appropriately funding our schools while considering the effect on all residents, and the benefit from maintaining our status as a premier school district.
The School Committee is also tasked with establishing and reviewing educational goals and policies. These often need to be refreshed due to our ever-changing needs. As an example, taking another look at previous decisions around bus schedules and school start times, early release schedules, and diversity, equity and inclusion principles throughout our schools are issues that require continued focus in order to have better quality of life for students and families.
As a community, we need to foster stability for the administration of Hingham Public Schools – including principals, central office and key staff. I favor a transparent, open process that recognizes the importance of collaborating not only with the community at large but with the Advisory Committee, the Select Board and other stakeholders throughout Hingham. Most of what I’ve outlined is much harder to do than to write or talk about. It is incumbent on those who serve to work diligently, thoughtfully and collaboratively to tackle the big questions and work towards solutions that benefit not only our kids but our town.
Like many of our friends and neighbors, one of the reasons that we made Hingham our home thirteen years ago, was the upstanding reputation of the public schools. Our schools are impressive - a true gem in a community full of treasures. Michelle and I are thrilled with our choice to make a life here, grateful for the friends that we’ve made here, and eager to give back to a town that we love.
I would be honored to earn your vote for Hingham School Committee.