Ryan to remain on School Committee, “where my heart truly lies”
By Citizen Chronicle Writers
SOUTHBRIDGE — What may still prove to be a crowded field of candidates for Town Council is down to one candidate for each seat after Jacquelyn Ryan notified the Town Clerk on Monday morning that she is withdrawing from the race.
Ryan is currently serving on the Southbridge School Committee, elected to the position last year for a three-year term that will expire in 2020. She previously served on the Tantasqua Regional School Committee in Sturbridge before moving to Southbridge. Ryan said she is withdrawing from the Town Council race in order to continue her efforts with the school committee.
“I have arrived at this decision after re-discovering where my heart truly lies, and that is still in education,” Ryan wrote in a statement on Monday morning. “Having been elected to the school committee in 2017, I am as fully committed as ever to making sure our students and taxpayers get the district they deserve and cannot in good faith leave my position if I was to be elected to Town Council.”
She added: “A huge thank you to my early supporters and friends for standing by me in my decision today. I look forward to working with everyone to Make sure our schools are worthy of the children going to them.”
In an interview with The Citizen Chronicle earlier this spring, Ryan said the problems plaguing the local public school district is systemic and widespread.
“The problem with education in Southbridge is confluence of failures at all three levels of government. The federal government has continued to cut aid to states which has in turn caused the commonwealth to cut chapter 70 aid to localities. On top of that our school system has lacked the stable and proper governing needed to help steer us through the difficult fiscal time,” she said. “Unfortunately the state takeover has done little to address our underlying fiscal issues while continuing to balloon our budget with mainly administrative expenses. They have done this instead of making more on the ground investments in supplies, teachers etc. that will actually improve the educational outlook for our students. This compounded with the fact that the state has been just as unstable in its leadership of our school system as our previous school boards and superintendents has caused our schools to fail our students. There is still a lot time and work that needs to be invested in our schools before they see any sort of long term improvement.
In terms of what qualities and traits make an effective town councilor, Ryan suggested a successful candidate is one who “should be thoughtful, independent, a consensus builder, and fiscally-minded.”
Ryan recognized the current makeup of the town’s governing board has its problems. “I definitely think the reputation of the town has improved in the last ten years,” she said. “But the factionalism of the current council has negatively impacted the perception people have on the town’s ability to govern. And we don’t want to slide back. Leadership matters.”
While Ryan has withdrawn from the race, others who have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to turn in completed nomination papers to the Town Clerk’s office. The Citizen Chronicle will publish the full field of candidates once that deadline has passed.