Jannelle Cioffi vouches for student education in run for school committee position

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Image provided by Jannelle Cioffi

Srinithi Raj, Co-editor-in-chief

With the advent of the Westford Town Election, several school committee candidates have made their mark as promising members. One such individual is Westford resident Jannelle Cioffi.

Cioffi has lived in Westford for the past sixteen years and works as the director of the Rappaport Foundation. She believes as though her life as a mother and director have played a part in shaping her to be a compatible board member. 

“I have been privileged to reside in many boards through the years, which has shown me that patience, understanding, and respect for the shoes I am stepping into is vitally important. I am determined, passionate, and strive to be an attentive listener who understands that doing something well takes dedication and time,” Cioffi said.

Specifically, her motivation for becoming a committee member stems from her theory of being an active community member. Cioffi belives as though schools from the Crisafulli/Robinson district remain underrepresented by the current committee, and through her role she can help to reinforce what she believes should remain the most important focus: student education.

“Over the past couple of years, the Westford school committee has faced many difficult decisions and challenges. It had become evident over time that our current school committee is not working together as well or as efficiently as possible. In addition, the schools from the Crisafulli/Robinson district are underrepresented by the current Committee. I am running for school committee because I believe we must remember our main priority, the education of our students, is not a one-size-fits-all proposition,” Cioffi said. 

Especially due to Westford’s recent budget constraints, Cioffi believes as though her experiences with educational budgets and leadership positions will make her a good fit for the position.

“I have experience with large educational budgets through the partnerships our foundation has with Harvard University, the Kennedy School of Government and Boston College. I have also been Treasurer for Westford Elementary PTO (2013-14), Fundraising Chair for Nashoba Youth Hockey (2014-16), and President of Brestyan’s Parent Organization (2015-18). These positions have shown me the importance of patience, understanding, and respect required to represent a diverse group of constituents,” Cioffi said. 

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Cioffi hopes these experiences will help her promote the school committee to assume more responsibility and advocate for the well-being of all Westford children.

“As a member of the school committee I see the current pandemic as something that will necessitate the expansion of the committee’s responsibilities. We will need to research how other schools are moving forward, review data about infection rates and transmission as it comes out and determine how Westford can best move forward to educated and care for our children during this uncertain time,” Cioffi said. 

If given the opportunity to serve on the committee, Cioffi hopes to involve more Westford residents in committee affairs in order to attain maximum transparency between the committee and the town. Through incentives such as group planning meetings between administration and parents, the committee can take a more holistic approach to better the town. 

“As a school committee member, I will insist on creating and implementing a parent action committee to help stakeholders, educators, and students better understand the school budget. It is our responsibility to ensure that reviewing, planning, forecasting, implementing, and evaluating the budget happens with maximum transparency and minimal uncertainty,” Cioffi said. 

One major issue Cioffi hopes her ideas will mitigate is her belief that the proportion of the town budget allocated to the school systems is too low and should be increased.

“I would like to see the school system become a higher priority in town by increasing the budget and streamlining spending. By allocating resources strategically we can improve the way our schools operate. We also need to continue to attract quality educators and hold those educators accountable for our high expectations,” Cioffi said. 

Overall, Cioffi cites the Westford students as her main priority. She hopes that while the committee continues to renovate educational aspects in Westford, the town continues to place student well-being at utmost importance. Her purpose is to make sure that the town can equip students with quality education to give them the best chance possible for future success. 

“The most important goal I would like to achieve as a school committee member would be to help develop a sense of happiness and moral value in students and faculty as a result of their interaction with the school committee. “Shaping the Future, One Child at a Time” should be all of our goals,” Cioffi said.