Lori Nickerson - School Committee Candidate Statement

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I believe the School Committee needs to improve its communication to the community and in order to do so, the process by which the exchange of information occurs must change. Communication is defined most simply as the exchange of information. The key components are exchange and information. You may have information, but you are not truly communicating unless there is a give and take.

As a citizen and outside observer of the School Committee’s communication methods, there appears to be a lack of dialogue. Questions may be asked, but not answered during School Committee meetings. Why? A simple answer to questions, even if the answer is “We don’t know” would at the very least allow for an exchange to occur. But instead, in the absence of answers, people draw their own conclusions and in many instances, perpetrate destructive rumors and further distrust that the School Committee is not acting in the best interests of the town.

Part of the problem lies with the methods in which the School Committee chooses to communicate. They have not moved along with the times. For better or for worse, students use social media as their main means of communication. Parents use social media both to stay on top of the content and issues to which their children are exposed and to remain informed on the important issues in their lives, which certainly includes educational matters. It has simply become the most instantaneous way to be informed and neither the School Committee, nor the School Administration has taken advantage of this inexpensive means of providing up-to-date information. Yet, parents use social media daily and often times in response to the perceived lack of information from the School Committee and the School Administration.

Social media presents its own issues and risks. However, those risks are not insurmountable and I have extensive experience in mitigating those risks with responsible social media policies. In fact, I work in an industry that is heavily regulated by the FDA and my company uses Facebook and Twitter, among other social media outlets to exchange information with our customers. I am positive this experience would be directly applicable to mitigating the risks for the School Committee, as well as for the School Administrators. It is imperative that the town, which the School Committee serves, be actively involved in a dialogue with the School Committee in order for effective communication to occur.

With the power of your vote on May 19th, I will work to change and improve the process by which information is exchanged between the town’s citizens and the School Committee and thereby ensure effective communication is indeed accomplished.

Lori Nickerson