Term: 2 Years

Al Charles

Candidate Website/Social Media Address and Facebook

Candidate Biography

I’m a man of many hats. Husband of nearly 13 years, Franklin resident of 12 years, father of 2 boys (8 & 10) and hopefully a member of your 2021 - 2023 Franklin School Committee.

I have lived in MA nearly my entire life and when it came down to setting our family’s roots, my wife and I made the wise decision to choose Franklin; a decision we would make over and over again. We were fortunate enough to grow a family here and become part of the community.

My guiding principle has been to help where I can. I have served the community as a Basketball, Baseball, and Soccer Coach. I also took time out to participate in events at the school. This included volunteering to be a Reading and Math workshop teacher’s assistant, field trip chaperone, leading 2 Parent Communication Council (PCC) sub committees, and helping configure laptops before the kids returned to school following being remote during the COVID-19 pandemic.

During my day job, as a Deployment Manager, I tackle complicated logistics to ensure the software & tools that my company develops make it successfully to the end users that need them the most. This work requires being able to set clear goals of what need to be accomplished, working with those affected by the change to make sure their voices are heard, and their concerns are addressed, and lastly having the belief that any obstacle can be overcome with perseverance and determination. I think these skills and experiences would make me a great member of the School Committee.

What accomplishments are you most proud of during your most recent tenure? Or, if you are a new candidate, what achievements make you most qualified for the position?

There are many aspects of my life have positioned me to be qualified for the School Committee position. Professionally, I work on a regular basis to gain agreement with stakeholders on how to accomplish a goal. This requires developing a culture of inclusion that invites others to share their perspectives, listening to their concerns and developing creative solutions that includes their feedback while accomplishing the original goal. I used these skills when I led two Keller Parent Communication Council (PCC) subcommittees during the 2020 school year. Both PCC subcommittees allowed the members to utilize their talents and maximize their area of expertise while I was able to implement new methods to engage the school and community. Both committees raised funds well above the expected goal. Being able to engage those that are impacted by the decisions and keeping their concerns top of mind are critical in representing the Franklin Community.

What is your plan to make Franklin more appealing to teachers?

Although the School Committee does not have the responsibility to direct day to day operations of the schools, there are other ways we can help make the Franklin School District appealing to educators. The first thing we can do is build a sense of job security by developing a budget that does not require cutting teachers to stay in budget. No one can perform their best knowing that there is a high potential they will not be back for the start of the next school year.

Supporting growth opportunities will also drive educators to the Franklin School District. Teachers need to be given the opportunity to further improve their skills. Knowing that we are investing in our teachers will result in our teachers investing even more in our students.

Lastly, making sure we continue to have a high-quality Superintendent that will advocate for the educators. Based on the recent Superintendent assessment readout during the September 14th School Committee meeting, Dr. Ahern has done an above average job in her tenure and is an asset to the school district. Employees are kept or pushed away based on the treatment from their leadership.

What is your plan to increase community involvement in School Community bi-weekly meetings, District impacting changes, and other events?

I will work the PCCs to ensure there is a consistent communication plan to give all families a full picture of the School Committee’s business and how to engage the committee. This past year has shown us that we need to rethink how we engage the public. I’ll push for increased usage of technology for virtual coffee hours in addition to in person events to give the public more access to the committee.

Davis Thayer was the oldest Franklin school, but there are others that are close to being above the recommended age of a school building. What is your plan to address the aging schools in Franklin?

The goal is that all Franklin students receive a similar education experience regardless of which school they attend. While overall age is a major factor to consider, we need to find out what, if any, impacts to learning exist because of the age of the building and then identify solutions that can close those gaps. This would be completed through the modernization program to address deteriorating buildings that was referenced in the 2020 Comprehensive Facilities Assessment. Factors such as age and the conditions of the buildings will be key areas of focus as discussions move forward on establishing the Facilities Master Plan.

What is your perspective on redistricting to better support school capacity?

The district map was not designed with our current situation in mind. There are students that go across town to their designated school, but there may be a school that is in closer proximity to them. This is not fair to students or families that are now required to travel further than expected and these inefficiencies result in the Franklin School district spending more than necessary in bussing costs. It would be a disservice of the Franklin School Committee not to thoroughly investigate and partner with the community on an equitable solution. With an undertaking that is wide reaching, the primary focus would be to ensure that there are robust communications to keep the community informed of each step.

What is your position on continuing to increase diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in Franklin Public Schools?

The world is getting smaller day by day and we will be doing our students a disservice if we do not prepare them for what they will experience once they leave the Franklin School District. We need to increase opportunities to interact and learn about people from other backgrounds. The importance of diversity starts with leadership and flows down through the School District. This can be supported by policies and goals that encourage a more diverse environment which could include areas such as budgeting for foreign languages in middle school so our students can get an opportunity to immerse themselves in a different culture, highlighting diversity in the Portrait of a Graduate, and creating an inclusive environment where people from all backgrounds are comfortable in participating.

Want to learn more? Check out Franklin Matters for Al's Interview: