|By G. Michael Dobbs|
SPRINGFIELD Long-time School Committee member Antonette Pepe is seeking another term because she wants to protect the progress made by the current school superintendent and work to make greater improvements in the city's schools.
Speaking to Reminder Publications two days after her campaign kick-off, Pepe said, "Everything right now seems to be in the path it should be going in."
She noted that since Superintendent Daniel Warwick took over from Dr. Alan Ingram, truancy numbers have improved as well as student behavior. Pepe added another aspect of school administration has changed as well: Warwick is speaking to the School Committee and responding to questions and requests for information.
Under the Ingram administration, Pepe said that principals and administrators were supposed to receive permission from Ingram to address a concern from a member of the School Committee. Warwick changed that policy.
"Warwick has impressed me greatly," she said.
Pepe has confirmed with teachers and principals that Warwick regularly makes unannounced visits to the city's schools, speaking with staff on issues.
"I love the fact he walks in the school and talks to [teachers and students,] she said.
Pepe noted that she never voted for a raise for Warwick when he served as a deputy superintendent under Ingram.
"It's not like he's my buddy," she explained. "I believe he can make a difference."
Pepe wants to stay on the committee to work on graduation and dropout rates.
"There is still a lot of work ahead of us," she said. "My priority has always been the kids and it's always going to be that way."
She charged there are "a couple of politicians" on the School Committee who are working to replace Warwick despite the progress made since his hiring.
"I think he's our last good chance," she said of Warwick.
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