UPDATED, Jan. 25: With a newcomer taking out papers, Jennifer Susse has announced that she is not seeking reelection to a third three-year term the School Committee.
Liz Exton, a kindergarten teacher in Brookline who lives near Stratton, aims to be the third school candidate in the April election.
Asked Thursday, Jan. 23, why she is stepping down, Susse called committee membership "enormously valuable," but "exhausting."
Affable and direct, she said her interests have veered in other directions -- toward the environment, voting as well as housing and zoning issues. She is involved with the Arlington chapter of Mothers Out Front and Town Meeting's election modernization committee, which she may have to leave when her School Committee term ends.
Article on committee stipend
A current effort aims to support future school board members: She is working on a warrant article seeking a stipend ($3,000 annually) for School Committee members, a measure of compensation "for so much work they do." School Committee members have long been volunteers.
Asked about the positive initiatives in which she has been involved during her time on the board since 2014, she cited communication efforts, both publicly and privately, and work to address enrollment, which ballooned in the last six years.
Both cases were illustrated this week. In an email, she provided an outline of how Arlington enrollment numbers compare to the projections received four years ago from Dr. Jerome McKibbin. "The answer is that they’ve held up surprisingly well, with some caveats," she wrote. "The school department is currently looking to hire someone to do another round of analysis, hopefully by the end of the year."
Looking at the numbers
In the last four years, she wrote, the town's public schools added 728 students, 16 more than the projections, for a difference of less than a quarter of a percentage point. "However, when you drill down to a subsets, such as at a school, the variance goes up," she wrote. "The overall story in Arlington is that we are retaining more students at the middle-school level than we did in the past (understandable given the opening of a dedicated 6th grade at Gibbs and change in leadership at Ottoson) and retaining fewer students at the High School level (potentially related to worries about the effects of the upcoming renovation)."
She made clear that it has been a pleasure for her to work with such bright smart colleagues, noting how hard all work.
The former philosophy professor came to town in 2008. She works part time doing accounts/bookkeeping for Janet Peluso, daughter of Town Meeting member Ted Peluso.
In the 2017 town election, Susse topped the three winners, with 1,984 votes, followed by Bill Hayner (1,955) and Paul Schlichtman (1,902).
In 2014, she placed first, with 3,646 votes, followed by Hayner (3,131), Schlichtman (3,102) and Michael Buckley (2,268).
This news summary was published Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, and updated Jan. 25, to add to copy.
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