Jennifer Spadafora is the only candidate for School Committee in Ward 3.
- Social Media: Facebook, Email, Twitter, Campaign website
- Phone: (781) 831-7011
- Malden Votes’ Summary of Policies
These are her answers to a questionnaire that Malden Votes sent to every candidate. They have not been edited or abridged, only formatted for readability. With the exception of the last question (see note below), the PDF version of these questions is here.
I have not received any endorsements at this time.
What motivates you to run for school committee?
Having spent the past 2 years in this position, I realized my job was not yet done. I initially decided to run for school committee over 2 years ago because I was tired of seeing policies looked over. As a special needs parent, I had sat in numerous IEP meetings wondering, if I was experiencing difficulties, there had to be others. I decided it was time to speak up and be a voice for not only special needs students but all students and their parents/guardians that may have been experiencing difficulties navigating our school system. Being a parent, in the school yard, on the field trips and at the PTO meetings, we have a first hand look into what’s going on in our schools and I have a vested interest in see not only my children succeed, but also their peers.
What experiences or skills have prepared you to serve on the school committee?
I’d like to think being a parent is what gives me the experience. With 1 child that has already navigated K-12 in MPS, another currently in 6th grade and my youngest attending a special needs school out-of-district, I think I have seen and experienced almost every inch and corner of our district. Additionally, my work in finance over the past 15 years allows me to look at one of the most important items school committee members handle: our budget.
In the past two years, what School Committee actions did you support or oppose, and why?
I have supported numerous resolves but forth, including increasing recess, fully funding our school and our gun violence resolution. Additionally, I opposed the cutting of an HR Director from our budget however, I am happy that we’ve been able to add this back into our budget and are actively hiring at this time.
What are the greatest strengths and challenges of our current school system?
Our greatest strengths are most definitely our students. I don’t think I could be any prouder of the students and what they stand for. They have rallied for diversifying our educators, spoken up for lowering the voting age and have been not only academically engaged but civically engaged. We need to continue to support them and that’s where we may have challenges as we don’t have the funding we deserve. We must continue to push legislation and convince them that without proper funding, we are giving up on our students.
What initiatives would you prioritize in our school system?
As we push to increase recess in our schools, we still hear from parents and students that recess is being taken away as punishment. This is unacceptable. I think we need to look at the policies that are put in place and demand that the Superintendent and those that report into him follow them. We also need to figure out how we can offer incentives to our minority students, that decide to become educator, to bring them back to Malden when they are ready to start their careers.
Malden has a broad diversity of students. How would you address the unique needs of various student populations? Be specific.
I think from a school committee perspective, electing public officials that represent our community is the first step. Our students need to not only see educators that look like them but people in office that respect them as well. Having such a diverse student population, I believe we need to support them by being visible and speaking up for their needs. Whether it’s the hiring of minority educators, to advocating for our LGBTQ+ youth, to training educators to support each and every student regardless of race, culture, sexual orientation or gender identification.
Do you have any priorities for the school budget? What are they, and why?
With the proper funding, I’d like to prioritize our arts and music. Studies have shown that exposure to arts promotes self directed learning, improve attendance and sharpens critical and creative skills.
What role should charter schools have in our public school system?
If charter schools are considered public schools, they should be treated as one. Currently, there is no public oversight which is troubling as tax payers should have a say into what they are funding.
What is your stance on the PROMISE Act?
I have fully supported the Promise Act and continue to speak up in regards to fully funding our schools.
How can we increase parental and community engagement in school committee meetings?
Every single meeting should be live streamed and scheduled after 6 pm to accommodate working families. We should be posting notices in multiple languages and utilizing our ConnectEd system for district wide announcements of school committee meetings in the languages spoken by the families in our school. We could also offer child care for those wishing to attend.
Everyone grows up holding personal biases. Please share an anecdote about a time that your own biases were confronted, and how you responded.
I was raised by a single, differently abled parent. Because of this, I thought of disabilities as more of a physical impairment. I would help those that maybe needed assistance crossing the street or reaching groceries on the top shelve. However, when I would see someone with intellectual disabilities, I would stare or walk the other direction. When my youngest son started exhibiting signs of behavior common in Autism and people were staring at him, I realized at that time I should have done more in my past. At one point in time, I was that person either staring or walking the other way. I vowed to change my behavior and start educating rather then ignoring. Now I advocate for ALL with different needs.