Ginny Kremer running for AB Regional School Committee


Acton Forum asked candidates in competitive races for Selectman and School Committee questions. The answers for School Committee candidate Ginny Kremer are below. The election will be held on Tuesday, March 27, 2018. The polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm. For more election info, visit the town clerk's webpage at http://www.acton-ma.gov/598/Elections

1. What is your background that makes you qualified to be on the Acton-Boxborough Regional School Committee?

I am an attorney who was inspired by a law school professor to devote my career to making government work better for the people it serves. I have worked in state and local government since graduating from B.U. Law in 1995. I served as an Assistant Attorney General for almost a decade and in that capacity represented state officials and agencies in the state and federal courts. I was on the four-attorney team that defended the Department of Education when it was sued over certain aspects of the Education Reform Act. As part of that multi-year litigation, I learned a tremendous amount about state education law, including special education law and issues regarding school facilities. After that, I transitioned to the municipal side. I have served as the Town of Grafton’s Town Counsel for almost eleven years. My job is to advise the Town’s officials, boards and committees on all aspects of the law. I have extensive expertise in the Open Meeting Law, state ethics laws, the Public Records Law, procurement law, and all laws that govern the conduct of public officials. I was also Grafton’s counsel during its construction of several new facilities, including its new high school, which was an MSBA project like the one contemplated here.

2. Do you currently have kids in school in the District and in what grade(s)?

Yes. I have a 6th grader at the Merriam School and an 8th grader at RJ Grey. Both of my daughters have been in the District since Kindergarten, and will graduate from ABRHS in 2022 and 2024. I have been an involved Merriam parent, serving 5 two-year terms as a room parent. I have also served on various fundraising committees, such as the fall fair and auction committees. Most recently, I was on the Merriam principal search committee.

3. What are your thoughts about the written statement the School Committee sent out after the resignation of Glenn Brand last year, and the statements made by several members at the School Committee meeting held in the High School auditorium last May 24, which blamed "philosophical and operational differences" between the School Committee and Brand for his leaving?

Like many parents, teachers, and other members of our District, I have serious concerns about the process that separated Dr. Brand from our District, as well as concerns over how this matter was handled in the aftermath of his departure. I never met Dr. Brand and thus had no personal opinion of his professional competence. Based on my training and experience, however, there are state laws that govern how evaluations of a superintendent’s professional competence are required to take place. Suffice it to say that, in my opinion, the District was not well served by its legal counsel, and this was a costly series of errors.

That said, we now have a new superintendent who needs our full support, and we have too much to do to spend time looking backward. I believe that my extensive expertise in state law as it applies to local officials and public bodies can be of assistance to the members of the Committee as we move forward with discussing and deciding the important decisions and issues we face.

4. Do you have any close relatives currently employed by the AB School District? If so, what are their names, titles, are they full-time or part-time, and how many years have they worked for the District?

No. I have no family members of any description who are employed by AB. Although I have very warm relationships with many of the amazing Merriam teachers who have taught my girls—as well as friends and neighbors who teach in the system--I have no relationships that would impact my judgment as a member of the school committee.

5. Do you favor the current plan to build new elementary schools on the Gates property?

I strongly believe that the replacement of both the Gates and Douglas school buildings is long overdue. Like many people, I am awaiting the information that will result from the feasilbility study which will answer questions and assist in making informed decisions. I am open to listening to the Town’s consultants, the Administration, and all other stake holders as a part of this process.

6. The seat you are competing for is to fulfill the term of a School Committee member who resigned. There is one year left on the term. Do you plan to run for re-election next year when the term expires?

Yes, that is my plan. Last summer, my husband experienced a serious health issue. He is doing very well but is continuing treatment. We hope and expect a full recovery, but given a certain level of uncertainty, I was more comfortable running for a one year term, which I am certain I can complete.

Regarding the fact that this is a one year term, I do understand there is a learning curve. However, my biggest priority for this year is to begin a review and discussion of the District’s use and cost of legal counsel. I have spent the last 11 years as a member of the relatively small group of attorneys who focus their practice on municipal law. As such, I have a good sense of the attorneys and law firms who share my practice area, and the general cost of typical services to municipalities. Right now, I have a stack of legal invoices on my desk paid by the District over the past year; these were recently obtained as the result of a public records request. The invoices are from three separate law firms that have acted as the District’s legal counsel, some of which charged the District several times the typical going rate. As municipal counsel myself, I understand the need for the District to engage counsel for various purposes. However, as a tax payer, I want my school tax dollars to be spent on teachers and programming for kids, and only on legal counsel when absolutely necessary. I believe that my professional experience makes me the perfect person to evaluate the District’s use of counsel, the quality of the advice being given, and to open an informed conversation if it seems that a change of direction should be considered.

7. Any closing remarks?

I am running for school committee because I am passionate about public education in general and our school system in particular. I have learned enough to know that there is always more to learn, and that really listening to others is key to success in any endeavor. For that reason, I have spent the past several weeks conducting a “listening tour” of District stakeholders—PTO chairs, District personnel, current school committee members, and leaders in various specialized areas—to better understand some of the many points of view and concerns. I’m open to hearing all points of view. I have great respect for all the teachers and other professionals who make the very challenging field of education their life’s work, as well as for all those who make local government function by volunteering their time and energy. I hope to be a positive force on the school committee, to move our excellent district forward in the coming years.

To see Ginny Kremer's photo, click here: http://www.actonforum.com/sites/default/files/Ginny_Kremer.jpg

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Comments

SADLY, MORE OF THE SAME

Very evasive comment on the firing fiasco. No explanation as to why the existing school buildings have to be raised rather than refurbished. You come across to me as a person who wants to run for the power of the position and not its responsibilities to Actonians.

More likely she is just new to running for office

I think it takes time to be able to fool folks effectively. On the unctuous scale, Benson and Petersen have skidded far into the lead. Kremer is a newbie and Fredericks, well, she is all wet and we know oil and water do not mix.
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