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McAuliffe challenges Szetela for School Committee seat


Oct. 11, 2013
<b>Joel McAuliffe</b> <br>Reminder Publications submitted photo

Joel McAuliffe
Reminder Publications submitted photo

By G. Michael Dobbs

news@thereminder.com

CHICOPEE – Joel McAuliffe believes the Chicopee School Committee would benefit from someone who has recently been in the classroom as the student.

McAuliffe, who ran for School Committee in 2011, is facing off incumbent Chester Szetela for an at-large seat.

The 2010 graduate of Chicopee Comprehensive High School was president of his class and is now a student at Springfield Technical Community College studying communications. He intends to complete his education at Westfield State University.

He believes his age – 21 – is “huge advantage.” Looking at the present School Committee, with the exception of out-going member Adam LaMontagne, McAuliffe said, “No one has been in a classroom in the last 20 years.”

He said he has “a history of leadership,” and has spoken to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Gov. Deval Patrick on behalf of his classmates concerning the cost of colleges.

“My age isn’t going to be an issue,” he stated.

McAuliffe has worked as a substitute teacher at the Hampden Charter of Science, a teaching assistant, an assistant baseball coach at Chicopee Comp and as a freshman basketball coach at Belchertown High School.

He explained that “being a student is completely different today, teaching students is completely different that five or 10 years ago.”

He fears that Chicopee schools “risk being left behind” when it comes to technology.

McAuliffe said the adaptation of technology “is moving a little slower than we should be.”

Chicopee “ doesn’t have bad schools, we have good schools,” he said, but added the use of iPads in the classrooms has been “a huge success, but we can do more.”

Understanding that additions of technology are regulated by the district’s budget, he said that if elected he would be a “financial watchdog” on the committee.

“We are going to have to make some tough decision in the year to come,” he said.

He commended the efforts of the committee to date, but said he wants “to be part of doing a better job.”

McAuliffe said there is “a level of disconnect” between the School Committee and the district’s teachers.

Specifically, McAuliffe said he would “reform the guidance departments” and would add a financial aid expert in each of the high schools.

“The more students we get into college the better community we can have here,” he said.

He would also work to create relationships between the School Committee and area college. McAuliffe believes the School Committee could play a role in making college more affordable to Chicopee students.

He would also expand the career and technical education offerings in the city he would like to add programs that are of interest to area employers.

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