2019 School Committee Candidate Response

The School Committee is a legislative body comprised of 5 members elected during town elections in March and who serve 3-year terms. In addition to supporting the core values, vision and mission of the Wellesley Public Schools, the Committee’s responsibilities are to:

  • Develop and manage school policies

  • Support the allocation of resources by overseeing budget & facilities

  • Hire and review superintendent of schools

  • Advocate for the school district

1. What is your track record on environmental sustainability, including any related interests, experience, or initiatives?

James Roberti

I am a real estate attorney with 30 plus years of experience in land use planning and real estate development. During my practice I have worked with several different clients in the area of large-scale development of solar fields. I got involved in solar field development in 2008 upon the passage of the Green Communities Act in Massachusetts by Governor Patrick and the Massachusetts Legislature. At home my wife and I have been tireless recyclers since we moved to Wellesley in 1994. I was also very involved in attending and supporting the process of acquiring the North 40 by the Town as a vital open space asset for the Town. I also supported and voted for as a Town Meeting Member the ban on the use of plastic bags by large retailers at
the 2016 Town Meeting. As a member of the planning board I supported the zoning bylaw that allowed the zoning for a large scale pv solar on the cloverleaf at the route 95 interchange in Wellesley. This zoning approval was a step in the direction that lead to the approval of Wellesley as a green community in Massachusetts.

2. What are your thoughts on sustainability as an issue and opportunity for students and staff in the Wellesley school system, both curriculum and non-curriculum based?

James Roberti

I think that we should introduce the following curricular and non- curricular initiatives into the Wellesley Public Schools over the next 3-5 years:
1. Educate students on the use of personal electronics, use of alternatives to gas/diesel powered vehicles, and reduced use of lighting at home.
2. Collaborate with the Green Schools and Sustainable Wellesley and other organizations that are active in Wellesley and our surrounding communities.
3. Continue to encourage students at all levels to compost at home, sort trash in school.
4. Emphasize the idea of doing energy audits at home which will spur parents to make needed changes.
5. Support the Evolutions program at the high school to further examine sustainable issues.
6. Implement a Sustainability Green team at each school if not already established- which would develop a group at each school of interested parents, teachers, students and administrators to work on issues to promote and educate the school community about sustainability.
7. Implement a speaker series at all the schools that bring in outside specialists and speakers on sustainable topics.
8. Have a full day program on Earth Day system wide to emphasize the importance of sustainability if not already in place.
9. Provide professional time for staff and teachers to learn about sustainability topics and initiatives.
10. Find a champion in the school—a teacher or administrator who will lead the school’s education for sustainability efforts.
11. Identify authentic learning opportunities in schools that engage students in data collection—including community asset mapping, energy use, emissions, waste, water quality testing of local ponds and streams, recycling and diversity.
12. Introduce co-curricular structured learning experiences, experiential learning, cooperative industrial education, or after school volunteer programs that relate directly to sustainability.
13. Think about growing local food at the community gardens as part of the curriculum.

3. Please describe how you see sustainability fitting into the decision-making process for major school projects, including Hardy, Hunnewell, and Upham?

James Roberti

All schools should strive to be near net zero in their construction, incorporating pv solar, and geothermal heating and heat pumps if possible. Need to consider the orientation of the building to capture natural light and use LED lighting. We should also consider
alternatives to traditional air conditioning systems. Some schools in RI have installed dehumidification systems rather than traditional air conditioning. Need to work with the Town and the School Building Committee to make sure all new schools attempt to reach this standard and the systems are functional and maintainable by FMD and the schools.

4. What do you suggest the School Committee do about the gas leaks around the schools?

James Roberti

Since National Grid is the natural gas provider in Wellesley added pressure to National Grid needs to be placed on the utility at the state level. Since the gas explosions occurred in 2018 in Lawrence and North Andover there is heightened public attention to this issue. School Committee needs to partner with the Selectmen in reaching out to the Governor and the executive branch to apply legal and legislative pressure to solve this problem including advocating to the department of public utilities. Our state representative Alice Peisch has always been a strong ally of the schools and can aid in the process. We can educate school parents and children about the issue to allow them to advocate with us for change. Finally, we can investigate retrofitting the schools to allow for less dependence on gas consumption in the schools so that the use of gas in or near the schools is diminished.


All 2019 Candidate Responses