Meet Kathleen Amaral
DARTMOUTH — The race is on for two open seats on the Dartmouth School Committee, and five local residents have declared their candidacy for the posts. Among those running, Kathleen Amaral is the only incumbent.
Amaral has sat on the committee for six years and has become its go-to advocate for special education and children with disabilities.
She explained that she became something of an expert on such issues when her second child was born with a rare disability. Since then, she has spent nearly two decades working with local nonprofits to help the families of other children with disabilities access the resources they need.
Aside from her expertise in special education, Amaral said she also knows the difficulties faced by students without disabilities, as her oldest is more of an “overachiever.”
Amaral identified “building on mental health supports for every student” as one of her top three priorities if reelected, citing an acute need to address the issue in the wake of the Covid pandemic.
“When you’re thoughtful about students’ mental health and social-emotional well-being, they’re going to be better learners — they’re going to engage with the curriculum better,” she said.
Another of the incumbent’s top concerns is welcoming the district’s soon-to-be-hired superintendent and special education director and getting them started on the right track.
Amaral also cited the importance of “being creative” with funding in the coming years as federal Covid relief money runs out and the district faces calls to increase teacher salaries and to make improvements to the town’s aging school buildings.
“We’re really up against a tough time with our budget,” she said, adding that her priority would be “contributing and getting creative around how we’re going to navigate that with the students at the forefront of our decision-making.”
Considering the challenges ahead, Amaral said her experience on the School Committee and working with children with disabilities make her the best candidate for the job. She added that she is a natural collaborator, a responsive community advocate, and a thoughtful decision-maker.
On the controversial issue of banning certain books from school libraries — a policy that has taken hold in some neighboring districts, like Old Rochester — Amaral said that she trusts the school library staff to make informed decisions on behalf of students.
Town elections will be held on April 4.