Term: 2 Years

David Callaghan

Candidate Website/Social Media Address

Dave Callaghan for School Committee (Facebook)

Candidate Biography

My wife, Jenny, and I moved to Franklin in 2010 to start a family in this terrific community, largely due to Franklin’s educational status. I have worked in the public sector for over a decade and hold a master’s degree in Public Administration from Framingham State University. I have two children, one in fifth grade at Kennedy and another anxiously awaiting his turn to go to Kennedy next fall. I served on the Kennedy School Council and have volunteered and chaperoned school events. Prior to moving to Franklin, I served as the Chairman of Needham’s Traffic 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?

One aspect of my job entails me to write public policy on a national scale. I have developed a keen understanding of governmental regulations and how that translates into policy implemented at the local level. I believe that I would be able to serve the School Committee well by bringing this level of policy writing and governmental understanding to the committee.

Additionally, my master’s degree in Public Administration had a focus on public budgeting and grant writing. I hope that my education will provide a fresh lens to our budgetary issues and perhaps find new, creative measures to stretch our tax dollars.

On a personal note, government and politics has always been a strong passion of mine. From my studies (B.A Political Science; Master Public Administration), to serving on municipal committees, to visiting my wife’s classroom to explain the Presidential election process to a room of 5th graders. Town governance, specifically the challenges facing our school district, are regularly a part of our dinner table conversions (in-between my daughter explaining her latest dance move and my son asking if Iron Man could beat The Hulk). While Franklin has its own politics and climate, it is often affected by what is occurring at the State & Federal level. Through this governmental passion, I am well aware of the climate outside of Franklin and can anticipate how that may impact us on a local level.

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

Certainly, we need to ensure that we offer competitive salaries; however, I believe that it is more important that we send strong signals of job security to all prospective teachers.

In the Summer of 2020, Franklin released 103 teachers and faculty. While we managed to rehire many of these teachers, this event may leave prospective teachers uncertain of their job security in Franklin. Furthermore, the closure of Davis Thayer, while financially prudent, may have incited further job security concerns. Franklin needs to show our applicant pool of new teachers that we remain steadfast in support of a first-class education and that we are committed to the teachers who are the ones responsible for making that happen on a day-to-day basis.

My wife had previously taught in a district that could not always afford to properly supply her classroom and, as such, she had to purchase classroom resources out of pocket. Franklin is graced with amazing PCCs and supportive families that provide teachers with many resources they need and minimize situations of teachers having to spend their own money on classroom expenses. The School Committee should be writing policy and allocating funds to the schools to ensure this trend continues and then advertising this fact to prospective teachers.

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

First, we should continue offering virtual options at every opportunity. Community engagement increased profoundly when we made access available to everyone with a phone or laptop.

Secondly, there is a growing frustration with governmental bodies and a belief that one’s voice is not heard. We must work towards being more accessible, including increasing our Social Media presence. We can leverage Social Media to communicate the Committee's messages across more platforms and also to open avenues for more community interaction.

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?

We need to continue focusing on the Master Facilities Plan, with two caveats:

1) The Facilities Assessment Report indicated that enrollment would decline by 12% over the next ten years; however, we now have more current Census data available. We must determine how more recent population changes, including those due to the pandemic, have affected future enrollment trends.

2) We need to be decisive and transparent on these matters. The longer that we deliberate and reexamine these issues the more uncertainty breeds. Any changes will have profound impacts on the community and we should be forthright and clear with our intentions to maximize the community’s ability to respond to these changes.

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

Many of our schools are currently operating under their recommended levels. Focusing on reaching proper school capacity will reduce stress on our budgetary issues. However, when redistricting:

1) Any redistricted schools should maintain the “neighborhood school” feel that Franklin has achieved up through this point.

2) Population trends should be assessed to ensure that any changes are a long-term solution that can withstand future enrollment trends.

3) The redistricted schools should have a demographic diversity that is representative of our community as a whole.

4) Transportation changes should not place an undue hardship on any family.

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

The School Committee needs to support all inclusive efforts. It is important that students of all racial and ethnic backgrounds feel valued, included, and safe.

Each child in our community should get to see someone that looks like them as the hero, be it the hero in a story or a history textbook. On the flip side, each of our students should be exposed to someone who looks different from them succeeding in literacy or history.

Students in the demographic minorities must feel valued and celebrated despite Franklin being 89% white. However, it is equally important that equity and inclusion efforts extend to the students in the majority so that they can better understand and appreciate the world beyond Franklin’s borders.

These efforts should be considered in every decision the School Committee makes.