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Hopeful offers school reforms
The Republican

By MARY ELLEN O'SHEA Staff writer

SPRINGFIELD - Reducing the upper-level administrative staff and boosting the teacher and classroom aide force will be a major focus for Brenden J.
Hammerle if he wins a seat on the School Committee.

The 32-year-old youth counselor said this week that he believes too much School Department money is spent on professionals who are not working directly with children in classrooms.

"The superintendent makes a ton of money, and teacher aides hardly make anything," said Hammerle, who has lived in the city all his life.

If elected during his first try at winning votes, he promises to be a watchdog for school safety.

He said he started thinking about running for city office following the classroom slaying of the Rev. Theodore N. Brown, a counselor at Springfield High School, in December 2001. A student has been convicted of the stabbing death.

"You should never have to feel like you're not safe in a school," said Hammerle. "This kid pulled a knife and killed someone. I thought maybe I should get involved, see if there is something I can do."

Besides strict enforcement of the discipline code, he would support the use of school uniforms for all students and an increase in the Quebec unit of police officers working in the schools.

He would work to reduce class sizes and to monitor teachers more closely, both moves aimed at boosting student performance, particularly on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests.

"A lot of kids are slipping through the system," he noted. "We've got ninth-graders who can't read. It's sad."

Hammerle supports the statewide voter initiative passed last year that limits the amount of time non-English-speaking children may receive special bilingual language services.

"These kids are going to school here; they should learn English," he said.

Hammerle is one of 10 candidates seeking three school board seats up for voter choice. The field will be narrowed to six in the Sept. 16 preliminary, and to the final three at the Nov. 4 municipal elections.

He is a 1989 graduate of the High School of Commerce, and a current student at Western New England College.

He belongs to the Mount Carmel Society.