May 31 2020

School Committee Q&A: Candidate Carl Foss



In the lead-up to Burlington’s 2020 Town Election on Saturday, June 6 we asked the four candidates for School Committee five questions and gave them the option of posing their own question to themselves to ensure they are able to hit on any point they feel is important for voters to understand. Here are the answers from Candidate Carl Foss:


1. Why did you decide to run for School Committee? 


ANSWER: After a few years of living in town, I decided I needed to step up and become more involved in town governance and ran for Town Meeting. My experience there gives me knowledge of the budget process and decision making at the municipal level. I am a teacher and in a position to bring valuable insights about the trends and issues that affect students, teachers and schools every day.  I am a parent of students currently in schools, which no sitting member is. I want all students to have the same wonderful experience my family is having. I will be a strong and unique voice on the School Committee combining my experience as a father, educator and town meeting member.  I am committed to putting students first and making sure every opportunity is open to each student in Burlington.


2. What in your background/experience do you believe makes you a strong candidate for the position? 


ANSWER: As a long-time teacher who is in the classroom every day I live and breath education. I have a passionate belief in the power of public schools to be a catalyst for good. Most of the conversations I have in my life revolve around education, what good policies look like and how to improve the job we are doing. I will use my past and current experience in schools to help guide BPS through our current crisis and build on past successes.


3. What do you think should be the main priorities of the School Committee in the next couple of years? 


ANSWER: We need to make sure all of our bases are covered for whatever public health situation we will face in the fall. Over-planning is the name of the game and getting feedback from all stakeholders is critical. BPS has started this process, but will need to maintain these feedback loops moving forward. As we plan, we need to ensure the most vulnerable students' needs are being met. High levels of parental involvement are critical as well as making sure parents are informed. The infrastructure needs at the high school and elementary schools will need to be well thought out, especially with the budget uncertainty we will face over the next few years.


4. What do you see as the role of the School Committee in the short/medium term to help address the school closure and the COVID-19 situation? 


ANSWER: The School Committee should serve as a conduit of information from the community to the administration. The School Committee should also serve as a sounding board for the administration's plans moving forward. This is why it is critical for the makeup of the Committee better reflect the full array of stakeholders involved Burlington Schools.


5. What is your philosophy to listening to residents and maintaining open lines of communication and transparency?  


ANSWER: Some advice I read years ago included the following advice: be honest and assume good intent. I will always be willing to listen to the questions and concerns of others. I pledge to be accessible digitally as well as in person. I will encourage public participation at meetings and strive to keep all Burlington residents as informed as possible about School Committee business.


6. Ask a question of yourself and answer it. What is the biggest difference between you and the other candidates?


ANSWER: I have the combination of experience that makes me most able to advocate for all involved in the Burlington Schools. I am the father of two students currently in schools, so I am intimately familiar with what parents and students are schools are going through every day. I currently teach middle school, so I have the familiarity with current trends and issues in the education realm. I also am an elected town meeting member, giving me the local government background to help govern the schools. No other candidate has this combination of experience. The school committee is in need of a  unique and strong voice to help propel BPS to continued success. I will provide that voice.


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