Candidate Statement: Lya Batlle-Rafferty for School Committee

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My name is Lya Batlle-Rafferty and I am running for School Committee.

In our current climate of growth in the school system, budget expansion, and enrollment projection challenges, I believe that the ideal candidate is one who has prior experience with school boards as well as data analysis and financial management.

I had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Trustees for a non-profit school when our family lived in Pittsburgh. During my tenure there, our school grew to two schools and our Principal assumed a role similar to that of our Hopkinton Superintendent. I was a co-founder of the PTA and served in that group for eight years. In the meantime, I worked with Pittsburgh Dataworks, a big data consortium, where I joined top representatives of the IBM Watson group in initiating a high school big data competition for the surrounding school districts. We ran the competition successfully for three years, eventually obtaining funding for all expenses incurred by the school districts, and it continues until this day.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science and a Master’s degree is in Adult Education and Training, I understand the importance of both data analysis and education. My career focuses on the algorithms needed to help others make better decisions. Also, I earned a deep understanding for how our budgets affect the taxes of Hopkinton residents from my three years on the Hopkinton Board of Assessors. This was a great position for someone like me, who loves the intersection of good mathematics and the people they affect.

I moved to Hopkinton five years ago for many reasons, and primary among them was the quality of the school system. The high school more than lived up to expectations. One of my children is now at UMass Amherst and the other is about to graduate this May. As I said when I ran for Board of Assessors, the first time I walked around downtown all I could think was that I walked into a Normal Rockwell painting. Over the years, our town has not disappointed, and my husband and I have been delighted with Hopkinton as a whole.

My areas of particular interest include:

Diversity and inclusion. As a Latina and the mother of two children who received support, I understand that every year of a child’s life is precious and every scar they receive due to poor treatment can cause lasting damage.

Careful analysis of the school projections. Our Growth Study Committee has found some interesting facts about student growth in town. As a data scientist, I’m interested in whether the projections from those numbers are in any way similar to the ones we are getting and if not, why not.

A focus on long-term budget projections. I know that budgets are a negotiation with the town and residents. I understand that it’s hard to see enrollments and budgets escalate year after year, even though we want the best for our children. As someone who has worked on five year strategic plans for schools, I believe I can help balance current and future needs and take a proactive approach.

I respectfully ask for your vote in the June 29 town election.