Q&A: Greenfield School Committee candidate Susan Hollins


Published: 10/27/2021 4:29:44 PM

Editor’s note: This questionnaire was completed by Susan Hollins, one of five candidates on the ballot for three School Committee seats with four-year terms in the Nov. 2 election. Look for more questionnaires from City Council and School Committee candidates throughout the week.

Work experience (past/present): I have worked in four fields of education — music and theater, special education, curriculum and administration. I also worked as a state licensing director, working with many governing boards. Currently, I actively volunteer and consult in these four fields.

Education: My formal education started in rural public schools. My college education is in three fields: music, special education and school leadership. My more recent education (workshops and courses) is in social justice areas and education finance.

Political experience: My political experience is mostly working with legislators on legislation and with elected and appointed governing boards. I served on the Massachusetts Commission for LGBTQ Youth. I have experience with the politics of public education.

How long have you lived in Greenfield? 13 or 14 years. Initially, I lived in temporary housing but I decided to settle in Greenfield.

What qualities would you bring to the School Committee?

Sincerity in wanting Greenfield youths to have the best education possible for the resources available. Attentive to details. Unbiased in terms of a particular school or employee. Integrity — following through and respecting others’ opinions. Having courage to speak up when it seems important. Entrepreneurial — willing to consider new ideas. Experience — an understanding of the education industry and how to get things done.

Which subcommittees would you be interested in serving on and why?

I am most interested in budget and finance because what we do, how we accomplish our goals, how we assure we have working computers and materials for students — it’s all related to understanding our finances. Knowing the details of the school system’s budget allows the School Committee to assure our priorities have the needed resources. I would work on any subcommittee and enjoy discussions of policy and programs, particularly some special committees that study topics like technology, communication or special education.

What are the biggest challenges facing Greenfield’s public schools, and how would you aim to address them?

■Recovering from the stresses of administrative turnover and pandemic requirements. How would I address? Having goals and supporting team-building and positive culture.

■Communication: I would like to see a different tone for our School Committee, and more sense of teamwork as a school district culture. Fewer agenda items presented as emergency decisions. Additional ways to communicate with our stakeholders. To address this, we need to make communication a School Committee goal and solicit ideas.

■Coordination: Reactivating our standing committees and making sure our actions coordinate with school personnel needs. Coordination of programs across schools. This gets addressed by advocating for active standing committees and having goals.

■Planning: Budget planning, technology planning, curriculum planning. We manage year to year. Some parts of the school system need multi-year plans. I’d like to address this through an active, standing Budget Subcommittee that looks and plans ahead.

How would you balance economic constraints with providing quality programming for students?

To find the balance, you must always be open to efficiencies and reviewing how we use resources. My personal value is for most education funding to support teaching and opportunities for youths, without fees. Spending plans would help for high-cost items like technology and special education tuition. We need a plan for emergency needs to assure stability. Having goals and knowing district policy priorities helps when you have to find a balance. Working closely with the city is also very important.


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