School Committee candidate profile: Mike Flaherty
Mike Flaherty is running for the Wareham School Committee with a plan to ask questions that are important to parents.
Flaherty said he thinks parents are an important part of the School Committee because of the perspective they provide. He has one child in Wareham High School and said he’s “ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.”
Flaherty has lived in Wareham since 2004. He is the creator of Wareham Matters, a Facebook group with more than 6,000 members. Flaherty was on the school committee three years ago, but took a break to spend more time with his family. He also used to be on the Library Board of Trustees.
The issues he hopes to address as a School Committee member are bullying (“I’m not convinced enough is being done”), lagging state scores and working toward a better relationship with Upper Cape.
“I’m all about putting the students first, and not just the students, but putting learning first,” Flaherty said. “I’ve always put academics over athletics or extracurricular activities.”
A big change Flaherty wants to see on the School Committee is more transparency and accountability. He said he’ll be the one to raise questions.
“Too often what I see is...they’re just up there nodding their heads as a rubber stamp for whatever the superintendent wants to do,” he said. “It’s like pulling teeth trying to get information out of the administration.”
Flaherty said he has many concerns about the proposed cuts to the school budget that were discussed on Feb. 28. Proposed was a massive, radical overhaul in how Wareham Public Schools operate to bridge a $2 million gap in next year’s budget. Drastic staff cuts, charging for transportation, changes in school leadership positions and closing Minot Forest Elementary are among the changes being considered.
“My initial thoughts are that we need to move heaven and earth to try to keep Minot open right now and not move those grades,” Flaherty said.
This new configuration would see Decas Elementary with approximately 800 students attending kindergarten through third grade. Portable classrooms would be added to accommodate those students. Flaherty said he is concerned that if Minot Elementary is closed, it won’t be reopened again.
“It’s going to be more motivation for people to leave the district even more,” he said.
He said if elected to the School Committee, his priority will be on educating kids.
“That is the role of a School Committee member,” Flaherty said. “You’re there to make sure that students achieve. Your focus is always on educating kids.”