Meet Kate Duggan

May 17, 2023

Incumbent Kate Duggan is running for her second term on the Rochester School Committee.

She said that after learning the ropes during her first term she is “definitely in a good place to have more of a voice” on the School Committee.

She said that her role as a parent and her Master’s Degree in education gives her a unique perspective on issues encountered by the School Committee.

“I work in higher education — [on the] college and university level — but people don't get to that point if they don't get this foundational knowledge first,” she said.

Duggan said she hopes to continue to bring her experience working in research development at Northeastern University to the School Committee.

She said her job gives her experience in securing grant and funding opportunities, analyzing budgets and data, and having effective communication between different people and groups.

“Working for people who work in criminal justice all the way to [the] English and Chinese [departments], just people in all different fields and being able to make those connections and build those relationships” has been a useful skill, she said.

If elected, Duggan identified the “continued academic struggles of kids coming out of the pandemic” as an issue to focus on over the next three years.

“I saw that with my own kids,” she said, adding that it is “shown in the data that test scores are down. I think that that's a big thing that unfortunately will persist, especially within the early education space.”

Duggan also pointed to a “contentious general environment with different viewpoints and people not feeling heard,” as an issue facing the district. “That’s a problem that’s not going to go away on [election day] … whatever way things pan out election-wise, we all still live together, we’re all still living in the same town.”

“I think a lot of times people [think] the school committee [has] more of a role in things than we really have,” she added.

If elected, Duggan said she hopes to give the community more educational resources to learn about the role of the School Committee.

“I think that that might be helpful as well to give people more realistic expectations on what to expect from the school committee,” she said.

Finally, Duggan explained that the school budget is a “long-term issue,” but has her “eye on” enrollment as well.

“Kids move in all the time [and] move out, so it's hard to really see trends. But I’m interested to see where that goes,” she said. “Because I know that for some of the other Tri-Town towns, they just have a lot less kids.”

This year, ten library books held in the Old Rochester Regional High School and Junior High Schools were challenged for alleged explicit content. This has sparked discussion over suitable in-school materials.

“I definitely defer to the people who are trained to not only select the books, but to vet these books using nationally established, decades-long procedures,” said Duggan. “If families have specific objections to certain books, then there's a process that they can follow, but I don't see it as my job to be telling anybody what books they can or can’t access in a school library.”

Duggan pointed to Rochester Memorial School’s “sense of community” as its greatest strength.

According to Duggan, the school’s “responsive classroom” program, which encourages critical thinking and collaboration between students, gives them a chance to build community and “be present together as a class.”

“I don't necessarily know what that might look like for every classroom at every grade level, but that principle of making connections, being mindful of others [and] taking care of your space has been well adopted by Rochester Memorial School.”