Paul Schlichtman, who is unopposed while seeking a one-year seat on the School Committee, brings a significant depth of education-related background to the job -- as well as a sense of humor.
The 60-year-old, whose quips are known to lighten the pace of committee meetings, has 30 years of experience in education. He is a district-level administrator for the Lowell public schools, primarily dealing with accountability data, external research and school improvement.
Until the Feb. 19 deadline to return nomination papers, it appeared he might have a challenge, but Melisa J. Tintocalis-Gauthier, who is Lexington's economic-development director, stayed out of the running. She is active in the effort to have the public schools add foreign-language immersion classes.
The 21-year Arlington resident who served on the School Committee from 2001 to 2007 explained what he sees as the greatest challenges ahead for our public schools. He called them "far from insurmountable."
Still, he wrote in a recent email: "[W]e are facing demands that are growing beyond available resources.
"Currently, we are mandated to adopt an improved educator-evaluation system that will encourage communication, feedback and professional growth, but it is a time-consuming process that will require more qualified school leaders."
In addition, he wrote, "11.5% of Arlington students speak a first language other than English, and the state is mandating what they describe as an 'ambitious undertaking' that will require teachers and supervising administrators to complete extensive retraining as a condition of renewing their licenses. We are educating children to take their place in a technologically rich world, and equipping our classrooms to meet the challenge will be expensive."
Avoid "impulse buys"
Asked how he would address these challenges, he explained:
"On a local level, we need to be extremely prudent in our planning and budgeting. We need to set clear goals, and strategically evaluate every expenditure against the pressing needs of the district.
"We can't afford to do everything we want to do, so we need to maintain our clear and transparent budget process where the town can reflect on the way we sort our list of priorities. Just as a family on a tight budget can't fill up a shopping cart with impulse buys, we need to stick to our prioritized shopping list that will use our limited resources to the maximum benefit of all children in our public schools."
Guiding him, he wrote, are core principles for public governance. He listed:
"• Strategic planning and budgeting, so we obtain maximum value from everyone's tax dollars.
"• A culture of continuous improvement, so we are always looking to get a little better every day.
"• A voice for every child, because all our students deserve an excellent education.
"Adhering to these core principles will allow us to continue to be a diverse, fiscally prudent, high-achieving school district."
His humor? Here's an example: The committee spends much time discussing standards-based education, aligning curriculum to the Common Core. Recently, when committee Chair Kirsi Allison-Ampe offered a motion aimed at clearing sidewalks after a storm, Shlichtman described it as "standards-based snow removal."
Appointed after Curro left
Schlichtman was appointed last year after Joseph A. Curro Jr. stepped down from the committee after winning a seat on the Board of Selectmen. Two years remained on Curro's seat, and now Schlichtman is running for the final year of the seat in the April 6 town election.
On the Arlington committee, he has served as vice chair, 2003-04; chair, 2004-05; secretary, 2002-03 and 2006-07. He was budget subcommittee chair, 2003-04; curriculum instruction and assessment chair, 2002-03; and community relations chair, 2006-07.
Before working in Lowell, Schlichtman was an evaluation and assessment coordinator at Madison Park High School in Boston, an elementary teacher in Boston, a high school mathematics teacher and gifted coordinator in New Jersey.
He served on the Minuteman Regional Vocational-Technical School Committee, 1997-2001
In addition, I trained NYC taxi drivers, and worked as a reporter and editor for weekly newspapers in Brooklyn and on Long Island.
His kickoff was held Sunday, March 10, 3 to 5 p.m. at the home of Mary Cummings, 135 Jason St.
This story was published Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, and updated March 10.
It is part of an ongoing series to provide basic information about key candidates in the April town election.
All major candidates for seats where there is competition have been sent a similar set of questions. Some where there is only an incumbent have been sent questions to renew their connection to the public.
FACEBOOK BOX: To see all images, click the PHOTOS link just below