Julie McDonough for School Committee
In both my professional work and my personal volunteer efforts, I have been fortunate to work for issues about which I care deeply - improving our public schools, connecting the uninsured with healthcare coverage, helping seniors stay in their own homes, and finding forever families for children in foster care. I am passionate about engaging the community and sharing information and resources with them. My professional experience in communications and my personal volunteer efforts in schools and town government give me the skills, experience, and insight to serve on the Natick School Committee.
Communications professional - I believe communications is critical to the success of any organization. Communicating clearly and consistently is essential to creating a shared vision of goals. Currently, I have the good fortune to work in a public school district in which my role is to share information with families and the community in a way that is timely, innovative, and useful. This role gives me good insight not only into what families need and want from their school district, but also about how other districts utilize their resources and engage their communities.
Prior to my work in public education, I created marketing communications plans that engaged diverse groups of stakeholders and moved toward a common goal. I worked to inform and engage communities about critical issues like public education, healthcare, and the environment. At the heart of my work was data - understanding communities and what they believed and wanted. This work has served me well as I seek to improve communications between the school and its stakeholders and engage the public in the very real challenges we face.
Natick Town Government
School Committee - 2015 to present. Chair - 2019 - 2022.
I have served on the Natick School Committee since August 2015. In my tenure on School Committee, I have focused my efforts on the following issues:
- COVID-19 Pandemic - Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges for our school district. As chair, I represented the School Committee in daily meetings with the Board of Health, Town officials, and Select Board representatives to navigate the early days of the pandemic. When the school budget was slashed by the town, I attended countless meetings with the town to be clear that the impact on the schools would be devastating. I am proud that we were able to clearly communicate the significant needs of the district to our town partners and am grateful to the Select Board for supporting schools during that time. As Chair, I worked in partnership with the superintendent, my fellow committee members, and our unions to develop plans for the 2020-21 school year that kept our students learning in person for the entire year. I continue to support efforts in the 2021-22 school year to keep students learning in person in our school buildings, as well as advocating for the supports needed for both our students, and importantly, our staff, to recover from the academic and the social-emotional impact of the pandemic.
- Class Size - I started attending School Committee meetings in 2012 when my daughter was in a Kindergarten class of 24. The following year, my son was in a Kindergarten class of 26. It was clear that Natick had a significant capacity issue. Since 2012, I have advocated for reducing class size, first at the elementary level and now at all levels throughout the district. I am proud of the progress we have made in lowering class size by adding the additional necessary teachers and increasing the size of our facilities. The grant monies put toward reducing class size at the high school this year have made a significant impact in helping students to recover from the pandemic. It has also decreased burden on staff and allowed them to spend more quality time with their students. Class size matters and I will continue to advocate for small class sizes throughout our district.
Kennedy Building Committee - I have served as the School Committee representative on the Kennedy Building Committee and worked to provide information to the community on the necessity and benefits of the new Kennedy Middle School. The new building provides the space and the tools we need to ensure our students are prepared for the challenges of high school. I am proud to have served on this committee, which steered the project through the pandemic and succeeded in opening the building on time and under budget in January 2021.
Natick Education Foundation - I have served as a liaison to the Natick Education Foundation and I am deeply grateful for the support this organization provides to the Natick Public Schools. Their support of new initiatives, through grants and seed money, is critical to continued innovation in our district.
Communication - I have pushed for increased communication between the district and the community to enhance understanding of current initiatives and vision for the future. The district has substantially increased its capacity to communicate and is using multiple methods to better understand the needs of families and to engage them more fully in the district.
Town Meeting Member - 2012 - 2022
I served as a Town Meeting member from Precinct 3 from 2012 - 2022. This role has given me deep appreciation for the complexity of town government and the importance of establishing priorities. Understanding the needs of the school district in the context of the overall town budget is essential to establishing realistic goals and expectations for the district. Town Meeting is also a place in which clear communication must occur so that those elected to represent the people of Natick understand the priorities of our town and our schools.
PTO Co-President, Brown Elementary - From 2012 - 2015, I served on the PTO Board at Brown Elementary. For two of those years, I served as Co-President. The PTO plays a wonderful role in all schools, bringing countless enrichment programs into the classrooms and building strong communities through special events. I recognize the critical role our community plays in keeping our schools strong and creating environments in which our children can thrive. Volunteers play a significant role in our schools and our town. We need to better communicate how everyone can get involved and make a difference in our community.