Jack Sommer has a lot of things he wants to accomplish if elected to a second term on the School Committee: finish the strategic plan, find a way to fund all-day kindergarten, look at class size, add more AP courses, improve art and music offerings, focus on student health and wellness, and continue looking at school start time.
And he’s proud of pushing to give every student at EGHS his or her own computer device, initiating the strategic planning process and forging a good working relationship with the Town Council.
“I think I’ve got a good track record in four years on the School Committee and three years before that on the [advisory] finance committee. And I think the goal of the district – providing a is world-class education in a public school district – I think we’re making good progress and that progress is only benefited from continuity,” he said in an interview Monday. “I don’t think my job is done … I think I can still add value to the committee.”
When it comes to technology, Sommer said the changes in four years have been huge and important.
“The use of technology will provide the modern tools for teachers and students,” he said. “We all use computers in just about every single career. The sooner a student can start to use technology in a meaningful way the better that student is prepared at choosing a career path after they leave East Greenwich High School.”
Adding Chromebooks at the high school comes with a significant continuing price tag. Adding all-day kindergarten will cost even more. Sommer defended acting on the 1:1 initiative first.
“All day kindergarten is necessary, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “But kindergarten is step one, technology goes through all 13 steps. I don’t want anyone with or without all day kindergarten getting to the high school and finding four working computers.”
He added, “All-day kindergarten is important. It should be done. There are ways to fully fund full-day kindergarten. It’s not an either/or proposition. I think I have the knowledge and the experience to manage the budget so that both can be done.”
Sommer was the one who called for a strategic plan two years ago and he’s not happy the process has taken so long. Still, he said, it’s close to completion.
“It’s on it’s way. It’s drafted. There’s still discussion to be had, but getting it completed is important,” he said.
“I think there were other issues, specifically around the teacher contract, that were taking up a lot of time,” he said about why it’s taken longer than planned. With regard to why there wasn’t much news of the plan over the past year, he said, “There wasn’t much to report because not much progress was being made.”
To watch Jack Sommer and four other the other six School Committee candidates, here’s a link to videos from the EG News Candidates Forum Oct. 16 at New England Tech.