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Rua represents School Committee for ‘Day on the Hill’

Date: 5/8/2015

AGAWAM – The Massachusetts Association of School Committees sponsored its annual Day on the Hill on April 29. Wendy Rua attended on behalf of the Agawam School Committee and met with legislators to voice the concerns of the district.

The event is a day that encourages school committee members from across the Commonwealth to attend presentations at the State House and meet with their local officials, Rua said. It is meant to open up lines of communication from the schools to legislators.

“It’s really about getting to know legislators and how we can work with them,” Rua said. “The more they know us, the more we can respect and understand each other’s policies and concerns. It’s to have them hear our voices. That’s the goal at the end of the day, to make contact, meet and put a face to people who are making laws.”

Rua had meetings with state Rep. Nick Boldyga and state Sen. Don Humason’s aides. Humason was planning on attending but was unable to make the meeting because of traffic on the Mass Pike.

The School Committee members put together information and concerns at last year’s Day on the Hill, and Rua said this year, she followed up with where it stood. She said it boiled down to underfunded mandates and over-tested students.

“They may not be able to change federal regulations but they can advocate for us, and that’s their job,” Rua said. “We definitely spoke more about over-testing, underfunding, too many mandates and needing to have a pause in all that’s coming in our direction right now.”

 Outside of the meetings, Rua attended presentations by state Sen. Karen Spilka, chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, state Rep. Alice Peisch, chair of the House Committee on Education and state Rep. Sonia Chang-Diaz, chair of the Senate Committee on Education.

The presented important dates in terms of budgets and discussed how the “flow of information can get from constituents to the school committee to representatives in Boston to them.”

Ultimately, Rua said, it was a chance for the chairs to hear from those in attendance before mandates are sent back to the school committees in the Commonwealth.

“Our job is to say, ‘Please remember bring it back to us, let us have a say and remember you’re affecting real communities,’” Rua said.  “Whether we live in a hill town or urban district, we’re real and you need to remember to support public education.”

One of the goals for the visit, Rua said, was to invite as many people to visit Agawam school as she came across. She offered them to set up a time with Superintendent William Sapelli and the doors would be open.

“I would not be surprised if we had some visitors,” she said.

Along with invitations to legislators to make clearer communications, Rua said constituents can voice their concerns to the School Committee.

“The relationship between the School Committee and all community members is for them to know that they can come to us and our job is to listen and make it move forward,” Rua said. “I always encourage people to reach out. If anyone has things they would like to speak about, the microphones [at School Committee meetings] are always there.”