In preparation for the upcoming town elections, Arlington Patch sat down to talk with all of the candidates running for major office. We've been bringing our readers profiles on all of the different candidates, giving you an inside look at their backgrounds, experiences and their views on the issues.
Bill Hayner is one of four candidates running for . Hayner faces current School Committee Chairman Joe Curro, School Committee member Leba Heigham and former Chairman Jim Dolan in the race for School Committee. Voters will choose three candidates who will each serve a three-year term.
Background and Experience
An Arlington resident for 34 years, Bill Hayner is now retired after spending 28 years in the classroom teaching elementary school, high school and special education. Hayner was active in his teachers union for more than 25 years, once serving a three-year term as president. Hayner also served as a Town Meeting member in Arlington for six years.
On the Issues
Patch: The most hotly contested issue the School Committee faced this past year was the budget deficit. How do you think the committee should handle the district’s budget deficit?
Bill Hayner: “One part is the need for the override. A five-year plan was put in place with an override with the promise not to go for another one for five years. We’ve lasted six years. We are now coming up to the seventh year. There is no question that there is a need for an override. On top of that there has been—to quote a famous children’s book—a “never-ending story” of litigation happening involving a former teacher and a former principal. That has to end; there has to be closure on that. I’m not saying buy them off, but from my legal background I do believe that there are legal ways to handle this rather quickly. Credibility has to grow back into the community. I do believe people will support an override when they are convinced that their money is going where it’s supposed to go.”
Patch: Residents and town officials also expressed concern with the committee’s communication methods about the budget deficit. If elected to the committee, what specifically will you do to improve communication and the relationship between the committee and the town?
Bill Hayner: “I believe in being proactive, not reactive. Right now the public forum at the beginning of meetings is one-sided: the person comes, presents for three minutes, there is a thank you and they move one. I would like to have responses from the committee during that time. If anything, we will take people’s statements, put it under advisement and get back to you—and mean that. If there is a reaction that can be given right at that time, let’s give it and let people know that they’ve been heard. The other thing that I would like to suggest is to allow input from people in the audience during meetings. I realize that there is a tremendous amount of [agenda] items up for discussion at the School Committee’s table, but at the same time the chair can control that input. Another thing we can do is involve the public in inservice programs. If there is a lecturer or an organizer coming, invite the public or televise it; let people know what’s going on, let them know how their tax dollars are being spent.”
Patch: After the sports fees debate this past year, the committee voted to form an athletics subcommittee. If elected to the committee, what specifically will you do to maintain and fortify the relationship between the school committee and the athletic community?
Bill Hayner: “The good news is that the athletic fees have been reduced. There was a time element involved; many athletics parents feel that they were not heard in a timely fashion. We have a wealth of resources in this town and there are many people that could take on the task of collecting the athletic fees. I would—with supervision—take advantage of this. That would help these people feel like they have ownership. I’d like to involve them more in the meetings. I’d like to hear more from that subcommittee and what they’d like to do.”
Patch: The Arlington School District faces cuts to staff and enrichment programs this year. If these cuts are made, what should the committee do to support the affected schools?
Bill Hayner: “The only way that a school committee can act is through the performance of a superintendent. Unless the superintendent brings that (the cuts) to us, we can’t really get involved. We can influence programs, but only through the performance of the superintendent. We can ask that he or she bring the programs to us for our review. From what I have seen so far, that is happening. I’m fortunate to talk on a regular basis with three different principals; they’re deeply concerned because programs that have been showing positive results are going to be diminished, if not totally dismantled.”
Bill Hayner: What about your experience and background makes you the best person for this job?
Bill Hayner: “Twenty-eight years as a teacher, I think I can identify with the teachers. Twenty years in negotiating contracts, a law degree and teaching a law course, I think makes me uniquely qualified to take on some of the issues the school committee is dealing with now. I’ve also taught special ed, so I can identify with those teachers and parents as well. There is a lot more we can do to improve on that and with making sure our special education dollars don’t go to waste. Even with all the problems Arlington has had, the product the schools are producing is still high quality. It might be dented (with budget cuts), but I have faith with the teachers and administrators that children of Arlington will be affected as minimally as possible.”
Check back with Arlington Patch for more candidate profiles before heading to the polls on April 2