Gloria Miller shapes a more inclusive, communicative Westford


Photo provided by Gloria Miller

Candidate Gloria Miller, a mother of three children who went through the Westford Public School system and a member of the School Committee for the past three years.

Kristen Su, Staff Writer

Through the budget challenges and coronavirus setbacks of the past schoolyear, the school committee has worked to push forward and confront these issues with the input of the townspeople. Incumbent member Gloria Miller hopes to continue with the unfinished plans of the past in the next three years as she runs for re-election this year.

A mother of three children, all of whom are now in college, Miller moved to Westford in 2007. Miller has a background as a former law professor and attorney, and also holds a B.A. and M.A. in psychology. Her motivation for being part of the school committee originally stemmed from her involvement in helping her children at various school events.

“Between my three kids, they’ve experienced every grade in Westford from K to 12. […] I started out as ‘classroom mom’ […] and as my kids got older, I got involved. And eventually, […] I learned more about the role of the school committee and decided that was an opportunity for me to help and give back,” Miller said.

One of Miller’s main goals is to provide more transparency and allow for more communication before the budget is decided upon. She cites the board of selectmen’s process and explains how the school committee should also be proactive with their communication.

“Every year, [the board of selectmen] provides a policy directive to the town manager while the town manager is developing a budget […] The school committee [needs to] have a community discussion and set some of those priorities upfront before we get a detailed budget, and we should be providing that directive to […] the superintendent, so that the superintendent has that kind of direction,” Miller said.

Miller also wants to set up an event for the public to learn more about the process of developing a budget, much like an event that happened a few years ago called “Show Me the Money.”

“The select board and some of our financial specialists in town gave this open forum tutorial on how the town budget works. […] We need to do the same thing with the school budget this year […] because we had all of this great energy and engagement from the community […] about very specific concerns about the budget, […] but we got lost in the process,” Miller said.

In addition to being more proactive about holding discussions with the community about budget, Miller wants to encourage a wider variety of students to participate in meetings. Right now, student council already comes a few times per year, but Miller is hoping to welcome students with a multitude of experiences.

“What would be ever more helpful is […] at another meeting, have students who are involved in the music program [come in], […] and another time, have students hold a discussion with students of color and discuss some really hard topics. We want to create a safe space that really welcomes the sharing of their experiences,” Miller said.

Miller also hopes to help the district ease back into the school year this fall after remote learning this spring.

“We have to […] figure out how we reopen schools in a way that balances safety, while promoting learning and connection […] I think we’ve learned a lot during this process. […] If there is a need for remote learning in the fall, we have to find ways to make it more effective,” Miller said.

Because of the various setbacks that the school committee has faced in the past year, later start times were not able to be introduced. However, Miller hopes to work towards that in the next few years.

“Something we weren’t able to do was implement later school start times. Busing is a huge challenge, and trying to figure out the the funding and the timing of bus routes makes it really challenging. […] Later school start times is definitely on my list of future goals,” Miller said.

Ultimately, Miller hopes to help Westford cultivate a space that is inclusive of everyone.

“We need to do more work to support our special education students, […] students who are facing mental health challenges, and given the recent national discussion, we need to do more work to support our students of color. Everyone needs to feel safe, welcome, and engaged in their learning,” Miller said.