Wednesday, July 10, 2013

LSC 2013 Q & A: Charlie Gallo

Charlie Gallo, an attorney and adjunct instructor at North Shore Community College, began his first term on the Lynn School Committee in January 2012. Gallo is a lifelong Lynn resident who attended Sacred Heart School, Sisson Elementary School, Pickering Middle School, and St. Mary’s High School; he earned a Bachelors Degree from Suffolk University in 2005 and a law degree in 2009 as an evening student at Suffolk Law School while working as a paralegal during the day. Currently, he serves on the boards of the Lynn Community Association, Lynn Home for Young Women, Lynn Democratic City Committee, and the Friendly Knights of St. Patrick, which awards scholarships to Lynn high school students annually. Gallo also previously served as a member of the Lynn Citizens Advisory Board and was an associate member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Here he answers a few questions regarding his candidacy for a second term in the Lynn School Committee.

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

Thank you for the opportunity to share the reasons why I am running for a second term on the Lynn School Committee.

I first ran for the Lynn School Committee because education has always been important to me, and I wanted to work to improve education in Lynn. As the first member of my family to graduate from college, I understood the importance of a quality education. As a lifelong Lynn resident whose family has lived in Lynn for four generations, I understood the history, accomplishments, and challenges facing our city and its schools. I ran for the Lynn School Committee with the belief that all students deserve a quality education, and that the future of Lynn requires that all students receive a quality education.

I began my first term on the Lynn School Committee in 2012, and since then have worked hard for our students and schools. I am running for a second term because I want to continue working hard to improve education in Lynn.

Some of the initiatives that I have been working on include grant funding to bring more resources to Lynn students and schools, career development programs for high school students, student safety programs for elementary school students and parents in partnership with the Lynn Police and Fire Departments, youth engagement and the Lynn Youth Council, partnerships with businesses and non-profits to provide more opportunities to Lynn students, establishment of the Lynn Community Enrichment Program which offers educational and recreational courses at Lynn Tech at night for Lynners of all ages, educator appreciation, and making Lynn School Committee meetings available online.

Lynn has been among 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? 

The strengths of Lynn’s schools are in its students, families, and educators.  Because of them, Lynn is ranked at or near the top of the urban districts of Massachusetts in terms of MCAS scores and other academic indicators. 

The Lynn Public Schools are not, however, perfect.  One of my major long-term goals is to continue progress in the area of early childhood education. Lynn offers universal all-day kindergarten, as well as pre-kindergarten in several schools. Though challenging to accomplish because of cost and space constraints, it is important that we work to someday make quality all-day pre-kindergarten available to every child in Lynn.

The area of funding is another that we must continue to work at. Without adequate funding, we cannot build or improve schools, ensure smaller class sizes, or maintain sufficient numbers of teachers and staff.  As chairperson of the Grants Subcommittee of the Lynn School Committee, I have worked on grant funding to bring more resources to Lynn students and schools. Specifically, within the existing grants department budget allocation, we recently contracted with a professional to seek out private donations as a creative way to improve our schools without burdening working families with more taxes.

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?

Some of the Lynn School Committee’s primary duties are to formulate a budget, set policy, hire/evaluate the superintendent, set district goals, and participate in collective bargaining. As chairperson of the Grants Subcommittee of the Lynn School Committee, and a member of the Policy, Finance, and Negotiation Subcommittees, I have worked hard to fulfill all of these primary duties.  By way of example, with regard to the budget, during my tenure there has been hiring – not layoffs – within the schools.  Further, there have been openings and re-openings of schools – not closings.

I believe that School Committee members also have a duty to work hard to constantly improve the educational experience of students in Lynn. I have done so since the start of my term in 2012 by working on the initiatives listed in response to question 1.

Additionally, School Committee members can be advocates for the reputations of our students and schools, which is important for our students’ future employers and educational institutions.   I have tried to publicize the good that comes out of our schools both by calling in stories to local newspapers, and by using social media to spread positive stories about Lynn students and schools.

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?

Since beginning my first term on the Lynn School Committee in 2012, I have had almost daily personal interactions with parents, teachers, students, and community members. I return phone calls, respond to emails and social media, and am available to meet face to face.

In order to best understand education in Lynn, I make it a point to personally visit schools throughout the city. I also attend many school and community events where I have a chance to interact with parents, teachers, students, and community members.

As the youngest School Committee member or candidate (30 years old in 2013), I have made it a point to ensure that youth have an opportunity to have their voice heard.  I have visited and spoken with high school classes, and along with Councilor Brendan Crighton helped to mentor the Lynn Youth Council. While we have great history in Lynn and it is important to honor our past, we must recognize that one of the big problems that Lynn faces is that younger people are moving out faster than they are moving in.  By engaging youth, I hope to provide leadership to help reverse that trend for the sake of Lynn’s future. 

Additionally, I have actively sought input from the community.  For example, with regard to the new Marshall Middle School, Councilor at Large Dan Cahill and I knocked on doors in the neighborhood to listen to thoughts on location and school design.

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

Please check out, find Charlie Gallo for Lynn School Committee on Facebook, and follow GalloForLynn on Twitter. Please also feel free to email or call me at 781-592-9498 with ideas, questions, comments, or concerns. Thank you for your time in reading this post.

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