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In 2nd shot, Buckley urges debt-exclusion discussion to rebuild high school

 Michael BuckleyBuckley

ELECTION'S EARLY LOOK: Those who take out papers in races that may be contested in April respond to basic questions about themselves and Arlington.

Michael G. Buckley was the last candidate to take out papers for a contested race in the 2014 town election, but he is eager to make his mark in a second run for one of three School Committee seats, as four are running.

The 46-year-old social-studies department chair at Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Lexington ran last year and received 3,082 votes, the newcomer against two incumbents.

"I do not think it would be fair to me or to those who supported my campaign last year to simply throw in the towel after running one time, especially considering the support I did receive," he commented. "Those supporters were genuinely looking for real change and to bow out after one run would be a real insult to their voice."

Describes his background

Asked about his background in school issues, he noted 17 years as a professional educator, supervisor and mentor. "I have been involved in the development of budgets, innovative curriculum, the enhancing of educational standards and the fostering of professional development," he wrote. "Therefore, I believe I possess the necessary personal qualities, professional background, experience, and perspective to compliment the School Committee as it moves into the future.

"Arlington has a well-deserved reputation for excellence and achievement, standards that I am committed to upholding."

Key  challenges ahead

As all candidates for key town and school position, he was asked what he sees as the greatest challenges ahead for Arlington's public schools. He ticked them off by the numbers:

"First, the School Committee must immediately address the hiring of a special-education director.

"Second, the committee must address the building, not renovation, of a new Arlington High School.

"Third, we must continue to effectively identify, recruit and retain the most qualified teachers and administrators in order to maintain our competitiveness and desirability.

"Fourth, the committee must continue to secure as much funding as possible, this includes continued analysis of Chapter 70 funding. The last point deals with the question of safety; we must seriously look at the question of effective lockdown protocol and procedures.

Those specific challenges, he wrote, are the product of pressing economic times. "My commitment to the citizens of this community will be to work to the best of my ability in order to ensure that growth and development occurs dispute these obstacles."

How to address challenges: Debt-exclusion focus

Apart from noting key challenges, Buckley was asked how he would address them.

To hiring a new special-education director, he wrote, the School Committee "must, as a priority, commit itself. This process and delay has gone on too long, and we owe it to our children that this commitment be fulfilled."

As for building of a new high school supported by a debt-exclusion vote to accomplish this goal, he offered this reasoning: "When Proposition 2 1/2 passed, it allowed for communities to raise funds for certain purposes. Because of this provision, it gave communities the ability to assess taxes in excess of its levy limit for the payment of capital projects.

"I believe most in this community feel that a new high school is a necessity and must rank as one of the top priorities of the School Committee. It would increases taxes to cover the project cost for a specific period of time. However, when the loan for the project is paid off, the tax increase would be revoked.

"One principle reason for this community to consider this now is that unlike in the past, we cannot be guaranteed reimbursement from the state for school-building construction as part of the exclusion if we wait. Also, for the exclusion to be successful, it must overcome a series of voting cycles and this will be a significant challenge, but if we believe in the best-quality education for our children, then it is time to commit to this project.

"I believe this would ensure that our town remains competitive and desirable to prospective families.

"These measures would ensure that the classrooms that service our children are classrooms of the 21st century and that the teachers in these classrooms are provided with the most effective, meaningful professional development training available."

Help assure funding

About the issues of funding, he continued:

"The committee must put appropriate pressure on local and state officials in order to secure as much funding as possible, including continued analysis of Chapter 70 funding. This includes as a committed body between the School Committee, local and state officials, to fight against mandates that do not have the funding behind them. An extension of this responsibility involves looking even harder at education policy.

"Education policy at every level affects our schools, our children and their future. It is not simply enough to know what these policies are, but to study these policies in order to understand the effects that these policies are having on our children. The simple math is that every dollar spent responsibly on our children is one more dollar wisely invested in their future.

"Through effectively securing more state and local funding and voting on a debt extension, we will retain the great teachers we currently have as well as attract the best possible educators to work here, enhancing the quality of community that we have worked so hard to create here in Arlington. I believe that we can achieve both of these simultaneously through frequent and effective communication with and between teachers, administrators, and parents. By encouraging and fostering this type of communication and community outreach, we will be able to achieve these goals."

Born, bred here

Buckley was born and raised in Arlington. He moved away in 1997 but returned in 2006 and has been here ever since. He went on to write:

"I know and understand this community very well, and want only the best for our schools and our children. I care deeply about this town, and would like the opportunity to give back, in part, what it has given to me."

About his background he added that, as the father of two young girls in elementary school, he has "a greater insight into the issues that are impacting our schools, just as all parents of school age children who live here do. I believe that I possess the necessary personal qualities, professional background and perspective that will complement the Arlington School Committee as it moves into the future."

Before he taught at Minuteman, Buckley worked at Shawsheen Valley Regional Technical High School in Billerica.

Campaign website >>

Reach the candidate at Facebook >> and at Mgbuckley2013 at

Also contending for School Committee three seats are incumbents William Hayner and Paul Schlichtman as well as Jennifer Susse, making her first run. Six-year incumbent Leba Heigham did not return papers.

2014 town election: Town | YourArlington

This story was published Monday, March 3, 2014.

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