Sharon Ferraro is the Democratic candidate for the contested seat on the Board of Education. She and her family have been Weston residents for over seven years. A former Yahoo! executive, Ms. Ferraro has been active in a number of school and community organizations. She has served on the Board of Education for two years.
In her time on the Board, Ms. Ferraro said she is proud of the major transition to a new district administration and the appointment of Superintendent Lisa Barbiero, who “knows the system” and will keep Weston a top-performing district.
“We needed the turnover” that took place at senior levels over the last few years, said Ms. Ferraro. “The former administration had kind of taken their feet off the pedal. They were getting very top heavy, especially considering that a lot of our scores were going down at the time. But now, that trend has turned.”
Ms. Ferraro said she does not believe the district is top heavy anymore, and said, “teachers are asking for more help, such as more school psychologists, who can help identify issues and address learning loss.”
“I think the CIL program is going to be fantastic,” said Ms. Ferraro, referring to the full-time Curriculum Instruction Leader positions approved in last year’s budget. “It’s a direct way to improve outcomes and test scores, and to address learning loss.”
“The CILs help make sure teachers have the resources and coaching they need. One big result is consistency, ensuring that students who are being taught by different teachers can all achieve the same excellent outcomes.”
Ms. Ferraro said she was disappointed by a narrative about test scores put forward in a Q&A held by the League of Women Voters. “The questions and responses seemed to be framed negatively.”
“There is work to be done, and I’m not about to put on rose colored glasses,” she said. “But I don’t think beating up our schools and teachers and administration is a healthy way to manage a school system, especially when we are seeing so much growth and improvement.”
Ms. Ferraro takes issue with assertions that the school district ranking has dropped. She said the numbers cited come from two different sources, which use dissimilar metrics. “Niche has us at 15th, but a lot of that score is based on diversity. There isn’t much the Board of Education or district administration can do about the diversity of Weston’s population.”
On the subject of school security, Ms. Ferraro finds it ironic that some who claim the district is top heavy are “all gung ho on hiring a chief of security and want additional SROs.” She said the two existing School Resource Officers cover all four schools but mainly focus on the high school and middle school, “where they can make the biggest difference.”
She noted that a third Weston Police officer is assigned to the schools and there are also safety officers. She said the district has a huge advantage over other towns, with all schools located on one “mile of safety.” She added that in towns with schools “spread out over 15 miles, it might make more sense.”
As to the facility needs of Weston schools, Ms. Ferraro said she looks forward to “hearing from the experts.” The work of the Facilities Optimization Committee (FOC), she said, “put the needs on our radar screen. But the town can only handle so much in terms of bonds and taxes. We need to be cognizant of that when we put together a plan.”
“We also have to consider what would happen if we don’t invest in our schools. There would be a negative impact on education and also on our rankings, which have an impact on our property values.”