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November 1, 2013

Methuen School Committee candidates weigh in on having kids in city schools

METHUEN — Few parents have run for school committee recently, and those who have emphasized their direct connection to the schools.

Other candidates without school-age children highlight the importance other views they bring to the table.

In 2011, one candidate for School Committee, Lynne Hajjar Kumm, had children enrolled in Methuen schools. The others either did not have children or had grown children. Kumm emphasized the importance of having a parent’s perspective on the committee during her campaign then and has this year as she runs for reelection.

“I think it’s an important piece and should be part of any school board,” Kumm said. “Being in the trenches with fellow parents and having first-hand experience in any challenges and struggles, seeing things where we could do better and change, that’s something that can only come from opening folders every night. I feel I’m a voice for parents. My social circle, what is it filled with? Parents. I can relate what they’re going through. I just think it’s an important perspective on a school board.”

This year Kumm, who is running for her second term, and Jana DiNatali, an assistant district attorney, are the only two of eight candidates with school-age children.

DiNatali said her kids mean she has a direct investment in the system. “I am involved with the PTO, in touch with the daily happenings at school and aware of the concerns of the other parents,” she said. “So while being a parent is just one factor, I do believe it is an important consideration.”

Five others — Richard Beshara, Tom Grondine, Mary Jean Fawcett, Bryan Sweet and Robert Vogler — have adult children who are finished with school. Dennis “D.J.” Deeb does not have children.

Kumm and others emphasized that being a parent is not the only qualification for a candidate, and not having school-aged children is not a disqualification.

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