Hobbs, Flaherty, won’t seek another term on School Committee

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Joe Flaherty has announced he won’t seek another term on the School Committee, citing a demanding school schedule. File photo
North Attleboro - Plainville Rotary Club is seeking out this year's Rotary Club distinguished Service Awards Recipients

abass@northstarreporter.com 

School Committee members Katherine Hobbs and Joe Flaherty have decided not to run for re-election.

Hobbs, Flaherty and School Committee Chair Tasha Buzzell’s seats will be on the Town Election ballot, as their three-year terms are set to end this year. 

Buzzell announced in January that she would run for re-election and has pulled nomination papers from the Town Clerk’s office. North Attleborough High School senior Meagan Lee, former Town Councilor Keith Lapointe and resident Aaron Whirl have also pulled papers to run for the committee.

The 2024 Town Election will take place on April 2. Along with the School Committee, there will be seats on the Board of Public Works, Park Commission and Electric Commissioners on the ballot.

Flaherty: A desire to give back

First elected in 2021, Flaherty said his decision not to run for re-election was based on his current work schedule. Flaherty enrolled at a law school in Boston in the fall of 2023 and found that his current studies require full attention.   

“When I ran for the committee in April of 2021, I did it knowing that it was a big commitment of time and energy, and I was happy to do it,” Flaherty said. “I still enjoy serving the town, but my time is much more constrained than it was when I first joined.” 

A North Attleborough High School and University of Maine graduate, Flaherty described himself as wanting to give back to the education system. When he began his term on the committee, the schools were reorganizing after their closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Flaherty was involved in decisions that led to students receiving educational equipment and resources during the pandemic.

“Most of the business we conducted centered around making sure kids were given their best opportunities to succeed in what were incredibly difficult circumstances,” he said. “Programs like providing wi-fi hotspots to folks who needed them for online schooling at home is something I remember from that time.”

A personal achievement for Flaherty was the opportunity to give students opportunities to work in advanced manufacturing roles in southeastern Massachusetts after graduation, through the Innovation Pathways program. In the program, students earn college credits at no cost and gain insight as to whether the field is something they want to pursue. Industries include manufacturing, information technology, environmental and life sciences, health care and social assistance, and business and finance.

“Being able to help establish that sort of pipeline is something I wish we had had when I was in high school. “Flaherty said. “It was something I was glad to have a hand in offering to the students.”

Hobbs: The need to volunteer

Katherine Hobbs, first elected to the committee in 2017, said she felt she had done enough work and was ready for a change.

Before serving on the committee, Hobbs raised support for an override of Proposition 2 ½ so that the schools could receive more funding through a tax increase. In 2015 and 2016, these efforts fell short, but Hobbs continued volunteering. In 2018, the override effort was successful, something Hobbs said she took pride in seeing.

“When you volunteer, you learn so much about the process,” Hobbs said. “I used to be a teacher and currently work for a non-profit education, so it felt like a natural fit, and I cared about the schools.”

Like Flaherty, Hobbs worked alongside her colleagues to help students during the pandemic, a priority for the committee. As such, other initiatives, such as giving schools Chromebooks and rebuilding the high school athletic complex, were put on hold. Hobbs opted to run for a second term in 2020 to finish these initiatives, which were implemented in 2021 and 2022. 

“I think we restored a lot of things at the high school,” Hobbs said. “At the high school they made improvements for teachers and cosmetic changes. I think all of that has put our high school back on the map.” 

Both Hobbs and Flaherty said they have no regrets about their decision and were satisfied with their work on the School Committee. Hobbs said she wants to travel to Europe and spend time with her family, but will still be a part of the education community in North Attleborough by attending meetings regarding the planned construction of a new high school.

“I’ve been doing this since 2015,” Hobbs said. “I was going to meetings every night and every weekend. One of my kids in college and I kind of feel like I did my time. I think people that are kids in the schools that are active in the community that have really good perspectives that should be shared as well.”