With Election Day coming up on Tuesday, March 24th, the Warrior Weekly reached out to this year’s School Committee candidates to provide an opportunity for them to share their aspirations as potential Committee members. Two candidates are running for a one-year seat: Annie Gilbert and Paul Properzio. Four candidates are running for two, three-year seats: David Birnbach, Susan McCready, Kim Sousa and Ted Teichert. Below are the responses we received.

Kim Sousa 

What is your background?

I am currently the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for an engineering firm. For over 20 years I have worked as a marketing and communications professional in the Engineering and Construction industry.  I have worked with municipalities and Public Schools on building projects the majority of my career. I have been responsible for communications and collaboration firm-wide.  As part of my civic experience, I had the pleasure of working with Governor Deval Patrick’s Transition Team, working with our Town Manager on the Andover Affordable Housing Board of Trustee’s and certainly for 6 years as part of the High Plain PTO, currently as President.

What do you see as the primary responsibility of a School Committee member?

The School Committee is the policy governing body of the schools in which the Superintendent reports to. I think their main responsibility is to advocate for a school budget and programs that makes sense and are part of our goals, to keep our schools advancing. I feel it’s their role to educate and inform the public on projects, challenges and successes that our schools are having. Lastly, I feel since the Superintendent reports to them, they need to have an open accountability and review structure and report back to the public on agreed upon areas of improvement as well as successes.

What is your vision for 2015-2016?

I think my background allows me to offer a new and unique perspective that aligns well with the type of major projects we have ahead of us. I want to make sure all of these space planning projects with the media center, the potential high school annex and the closing of Shawsheen work towards our goals while still offering innovation. They need to be well organized and well thought out. Communication is a priority for me. Being in communications, I feel I can easily organize a process in which the school committee and administration regularly provide updates to bolster relationships and trust.

What is your stand on the proposed changes for the school calendar?

As a working mom I can see both sides. The real challenge is that it would be difficult for only Andover to go to the one week break. It really has to be many surrounding communities or a region in order for it to work seamlessly for our community, including our teachers. I think it’s great that the School Committee decided to push the decision off in order to reach out to the Towns around us. I do have to say I was shocked at the little amount of parent input during the process though.

How much does the community of Andover mean to you?

I love it here. I think we have the most amazing and beautiful town with so many great resources. My husband’s mother grew up here and his 95 year old grandmother still lives here. I love hearing her stories of how it was when she grew up and she still holds the same pride that we now have raising our kids here. I have met with dozens of our town administration during my campaign and I have never seen so much heart. I want to be a bigger part of it.

Any additional comments?

I can’t wait to spend more time at the High School! I’ve had a couple meetings there and I want to get to know it better. I hope I get the chance! I also would love to meet the marketing teachers and see if there is any way I can help out as a guest speaker or offer special projects. Thank you for including us in your newspaper and Happy Spring!

Ted Teichert

What is your background? 

  • Was born and raised here in Andover
  • Andover High School graduate 1979
  • Served 12 years as Andover Selectman,
  • Andover Jr Football League board member for 35 years.
  • Andover Day – board member 5 years

What do you see as the primary responsibility of a School Committee member?

To ensure that all Andover children receive a high quality education and be an advocate for the children in our schools.

What is your vision for 2015-2016?

Andover’s ranking has been slipping.  Performance and test scores are declining.  I strive put in Andover back in the top 20 not to keep in the 60’s.

What is your stand on the proposed changes for the school calendar? 

The proposed changes should be the same as other communities. It would be more accommodating for teachers and administrators who live outside the district especially if they have children in school. 

How much does the community of Andover mean to you? 

I believe in Andover schools and that is why I chose to raise my family here and have my children attend our schools.  I come from a family of five and we all attend our schools and graduated from Andover High.

Any additional comments? 

No doubt Andover schools are doing some great things but trend in academic performance and test scores are declining.  Here are my concerns we must address:  declining test scores and performance, 40 non-compliance issues out lined by the state, retention of personnel, high school space, classroom size, user fees, lack of transparency and the budget.  The schools play a very important role to our town. I’m running to help to get these issues solved. Having extensive experience in many different facets of public service to Andover and a desire to apply that experience in solving the issues now facing Andover’s school system.

Annie Gilbert

What is your background?

I am a former middle school teacher and have lived in Andover for the past 22 years with my husband Bob and our three children, all of whom attended the Andover Public Schools. I have served two terms on the School Committee and am currently its chair for the second time. I also served for six years on the School Building Committee which oversaw the construction of the new Bancroft School. Prior to that I served on the Bancroft and Shawsheen PTO boards, the Bancroft School Council, and was Vice President of the Andover Coalition for Education.

What do you see as the primary responsibility of a School Committee member?

The primary responsibility of a School Committee member is to work collaboratively with our Superintendent, administrators, teachers, and community to set priorities for the school district, and then to support and advocate for those priorities. Major responsibilities also include hiring and evaluating the Superintendent; reviewing and approving the budget; setting policy; and responsibly negotiating collective bargaining agreements with all of our teachers and staff. 

What is your vision for 2015-2016?

Given Dr. McGrath’s recent notice of resignation, our most important task will be to hire a Superintendent. Since I am running for just a one-year term, my focus will be on three specific initiatives which are currently underway: the relocation of the Pre-K program from Shawsheen, the proposed renovation of the high school media center, and the creation of an innovative satellite program for Andover High. Each of these projects represents an opportunity to use a creative, cost-effective solution—not only to address our space needs, but as a catalyst for innovation in our district.

What is your stand on the proposed changes for the school calendar?

I support the idea of eliminating the February and April vacations in favor of a single March vacation, but I recognize that this change would make much better sense if done in conjunction with a meaningful number of other school districts in our region. I also think we must wait for more clarity on the status of our state testing obligations before making this change.

How much does the community of Andover mean to you?

Andover means everything to me. It is where my husband and I chose to make our home and raise our family; it has been the launching pad for our three children; it is where we’ve made our dearest friends. My husband owns two businesses in Andover, and I have spent all 22 of my years here deeply involved with the schools, so we feel very connected to the community. We love what Andover is, but we also want to play a part in what Andover can become.

Any additional comments?

My three children, while very different from one another, have each been extremely well-served by the Andover Public Schools. I am indebted to the many teachers, administrators, and staff who have made such a difference in my children’s lives, and while I will always find a way to give back to the schools, I hope I will have the opportunity to do so as a member of the School Committee for one more year.