Tuesday, September 3, 2013

LSC 2013 Q & A: Rick Starbard

Incumbent School Committee member Rick Starbard is currently seeking his third term on the Lynn School Committee in this year's municipal elections. A 1981 graduate of Lynn Tech, Starbard is currently the owner of Rick's Auto Collision in Revere; he also previously taught as a collision instructor at Tech and now serves on the Board of Directors for LYSOA (Lynn Youth Street Outreach Advocacy). Here he answers a few questions regarding his candidacy for SC.

Why have you decided to run for another term on the Lynn School Committee?

I have fun doing what I am doing. I think that my experience in life and in my career as a businessperson and teacher is unique and I feel that uniqueness gives me a different perspective as I proudly serve as a member of the Lynn School Committee.

While the politics of the job is sometimes frustrating, nothing makes me feel better than when I have helped a parent who feels that they have exhausted every effort in having their concerns heard and not resolved.

It has never been my plan to stay on the School Committee forever. That being said, I would like to see a strategic plan in place to begin to replace our aging facilities before I leave.  

Lynn has been called the best of the Commissioner’s 10 urban districts in terms of MCAS scores and other academic indicators. How would you describe the current state of LPS overall in terms of its educational quality and academic performance?   

While it is nice to be the best or near the best in your class, you cannot rest on that. I don’t believe that anyone in LPS is happy to rest on that. LPS is always changing both in our needs and how we address those needs. 
We have space issues and I think that we have begun addressing this issue by opening our first early education center so that we can relieve some of the pressure on our most overcrowded schools. I have said for quite a while that we need to open early education centers in both East Lynn and West Lynn. It is the only way that we can ever expand Pre-K. Many students in neighboring communities or with the means attend two years of school prior to attending kindergarten. We need to make sure that we reach as many children as possible as soon as possible. If we are going to prepare our kids to compete with their peers in surrounding communities, K-12 isn’t enough any longer.

I think that we have had major positive changes to vocational education offerings to students in Lynn. I feel that my vocational education experience has helped foster many of those changes and I am proud of the achievements being made at that school.

There is no question that we have seen a major change in the demographic in new students enrolling in LPS. Many of these students come from homes where English is not the primary language. We must enhance educational offerings to adults so that they can work with their children while at home at the earliest age possible. Children that come to school “ready to learn” will undoubtedly lead to higher academic performance.

We have been without a science curriculum administrator for some time. LPS has recently hired someone who had led his school in having the highest science scores in the city to fill this role. We are also looking into creative methods of funding more STEM based educational offerings in our elementary schools. LPS has also opened its first STEM based school. Not only is this giving students in that school the ability to learn in a setting that is somewhat different than the average elementary school, it has also relieved some of the overcrowding issues that existed in Cobbet and Harrington.

What do you believe to be the role of the School Committee in overseeing and improving the city’s public education system? How do you believe that you have fulfilled your duties as an SC member thus far?

Per the Massachusetts Association of School Committees’ handbook, the School Committee’s areas of responsibility are: System wide goals, policy development, community relations, budget review and approval, health and safety, curriculum approval and collective bargaining. 

In my role as a school committee member, I have been an advocate against wasteful spending as well as an advocate for creating system wide goals that are tied to the Superintendent’s evaluation. As chairman of the policy sub-committee, I have worked to bring a higher degree of transparency by having the LPS policy manual placed online and have been trying to clean up and updating the manual. I have also been visible in the community both physically and financially to support programs that support our students both in and out of school. I have also fought to have what I have found to be inequities in our security systems repaired. Like my other colleagues on the School Committee, I have listened to many parents and staff who feel that they have nowhere else to turn in frustration and have done my best to help them to experience a positive resolution to their issue.

How would you describe the frequency and depth of your personal interactions with parents, teachers, students and community members regarding any concerns they may have regarding LPS? Could you improve in this area?

My interactions with the community are many. I am contacted by parents, teachers and sometimes students via phone, email, Facebook, in the public as well as some come to my place of business.  I try to attend as many community events as possible where I can speak with all of the stakeholders in the school system. I attend many of the PAC meetings and through the relationship that I developed with that group, I was able to have someone placed in the liaison position that has been vacant for quite some time while the person in that job was out on disability. In some cases, I have gone beyond what is really in the purview of a School Committee member to help make sure that some individual’s issues are resolved in a manner that benefits the student.  

There is always room for improvement with anything. Every day I learn something new or meet someone new which helps me to solve issues within LPS and outside as well.  

Where can voters get more information on your candidacy and learn more about you?

Voters can find out more about me on my website: www.starbardforlynnschools.org  
or on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lynnschools

I can also be contacted via email : rstarbard@comcast.net or phone: 781-599-7999

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