My name is Laina Simone. My husband and I moved to North Reading 16 years ago and currently reside here with our 2 daughters, one in 5th grade and one in 9th grade. My husband and I chose to make North Reading our home not only because of the excellent reputation of the schools but also because of the strong sense of community here, something I have witnessed many times.
Prior to becoming a mother, I was a senior level account executive working with software engineers for over 10 years. Since then, I have become very active in education. I have been a member of the Hood School Parents’ Association for the past 9 years and on the Parents’ Association Board serving as Co-Enrichment Director for the past 5 years. One of my former partners was current School Committee member, Julie Koepke, someone with whom I have worked very well. I also served on the Middle School Parents’ Association for 3 years on the Enrichment team. During the MS/HS project, I was the NRUE (North Reading United for Education) liaison for the Hood School. Last fall, I also helped organize an Opioid Abuse Forum in North Reading.
People often ask me why I am running for a seat on the North Reading School Committee. My answer is quite simple; I believe our children and their parents need a strong voice advocating for them.
Quality education is very important to me. I have testified, alongside parents and teachers, at both the State House as well as before the Massachusetts Board of Education about the issue of over testing. We cannot look only to North Reading for solutions to problems such as the budget and the number of assessments our children our have to take; we must also be cognizant of what is happening at the state and federal level in education and how that will impact North Reading. An example of this is recently introduced legislation that not only calls for a moratorium on high stakes testing; it also calls for a restructuring of Chapter 70 aid to MA communities. This could affect North Reading.
My candidacy focuses on several issues. The first is fiscal accountability. Balancing the school budget is perhaps the most difficult task the School Committee faces each year. Though my primary concern as a School Committee member will be to focus on the district’s needs and work toward important goals such as reducing class sizes and increasing foreign language, I believe we also hold a responsibility to the taxpayers of North Reading.
Student privacy is another area of great concern. We must be extremely diligent in protecting our children’s personal information. I recently brought a privacy issue to the attention of one of our school committee members. The MA Department of Education is conducting a school climate survey at the end of MCAS testing for grades 5, 8 and 10. The state is conducting a “psychometric analysis” of the results and is assessing, among other things, a student’s “mental health”. As a parent, I find it completely unacceptable that our children’s personal information would have been shared with unknown entities had the NR SC not voted to exclude our district from participation.
I am a parent who has seen firsthand the issues both our children and our teachers have faced and continue to face. I believe this will help me bring a fresh perspective to the School Committee. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at Laina Simone for School Committee. Thank you for your consideration.