Education: Earned a Master's Degree in Management with a specialized
graduate certificate in Diversity from Cambridge College in May 1999.
Holds a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting and Finance from Bentley College
in May 1999.
Experienced municipal finance processional as Deputy Treasure for the
Town of Arlington since 1979.
Experience on both sides of the collective bargaining table having
negotiated many contracts for the management side (Cambridge Public
Schools) and as Vice President of Local 134, National Association of
Government Employees (now Local 888-SEIU).
President of Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) which, this year was
awarded Best in the Nation for Overall Excellence Public Access
Role of the School Committee:
School committee roles focus on three areas under the law, but more
broadly in practice. Under the educational reform act, the
responsibilities of the school committee are to hire and evaluate the
superintendent, approve the budget, and establish policy for schools.
These areas are very broad in terms of what they mean for a school
committee's work. Key to our roles is having a strong, trusting
relationship with the superintendent. The school committee members should
also see their role both to act as a cheerleader and promoter for the
public schools and, acting as policymakers, to put their attention on
student achievement. This means using the information from our assessments
(e.g., MCAS) and other places where we get our data to hold administrators
accountable and to make our policy and budget decisions on the basis of
what will lead to improvements in student achievement.
Elementary School Consolidation:
The school opening in September went well and convinces me that we can
move ahead and not need to look back. The consolidation process made clear
how passionate and supportive parents were of their schools, and this was
heartening even though we had to face up to very difficult decisions. We
hope to capture that same passion and commitment for the newly created
schools. We have some real challenges and hope that the dollars we will
save by the mergers can be spent helping us move us forward. We need to
keep focused on the goal of academic achievement for all children. This is
a huge opportunity to see some of our newly reorganized schools meet the
challenges of the accountability laws and use the opportunity to move
Restructuring of the High School:
When we talk about using data and holding administrators accountable for
high standards, we should look very closely at Cambridge Rindge and Latin
A new high school principal and a new team of administrators will
continue the work to restructure and strengthen our high school. It's the
most important work we will do in the next 12 to 18 months. As our new
superintendent said, and I agree with him, "How the high school goes,
so do the Cambridge Public Schools." We have one high school in this
city and it has the potential to be a really unifying force. It must be a
school that holds high standards for all our children. I want the focus on
- establishing more rigor in the Freshman and Sophomore years,
- establishing legitimate Advanced Placement courses, honor courses,
support structures that prepare students to enter advanced placement
- heterogeneous grouping classes where appropriate.
Excellent high schools ensure that children are not only educated well,
but also that they are safe physically, emotionally and academically,
ready to take on the challenges of a very fast changing world. We need to
make sure children coming from our elementary schools are high
school-ready. We have the resources, commitment and talent to make our
high school an exemplarily one.
Academic Excellence and Goals for the Cambridge Public Schools:
Academic excellence is our primary goal. Cambridge has a higher percentage
of students taking college board exams than most schools. We encourage
students to succeed and accept the challenge of college, but it also means
that we won't exclude any student because we fear a low score will bring
down the city's averages. Still, recent assessments-MCAS results for 2003
and SAT scores are showing a positive trend. This must continue, and it
must be one of our most important goals. Schools must continue to review
the data from the assessment tools that are used to measure academic
progress (i.e. MCAS, English Language Assessment, Algebra Assessment,
Superintendent's new quarterly assessment) and learn and adjust
instruction when needed to further increase achievement.
We have a $116 million budget that supports our school system. This is a
large investment in our children and our future. Over the years, I've
demanded accountability and proof that these dollars generate quality
services for a school system whose students range from the wealthiest to
the poorest in the state. Here are some examples of how we demonstrate our
- This budget includes $10 million to place special needs children in
out of district placement schools.
- The budget also includes $8 million to cover the debt and interest
on the new schools we recently built and renovated-a budget item
usually seen on the city side of the ledger.
- We provide an Assistant Principal in each of our elementary schools
to help service students.
- We budget for a strong group of instruction aides throughout our
- We are among the few districts that offer universal, full day
kindergarten consisting of a junior and regular kindergarten program
for very young boys and girls.
- There is a Reading Recovery program in each school as well as
Special Start and Home-Based program services.
Critics of public schools always accuse the school committee of
spending too much. As a trained financial manager, I have always believed
that we need to be vigilante in finding ways to save funds, but the
programs I mentioned above are good ones that I would not want to cut.
When people suggest that there's a lot to cut, remember, it's these
programs that they want to eliminate.
Last year, as the Budget co-chair with Nancy Walser we were able to
make reductions of close to 1.5 million in administrative reductions –
so we continue to look to make reductions in areas that will not harm
MCAS is an assessment program required by the State that all public
schools and public charter schools must comply. It's controversial and
along with the Federal No Child Left Behind act is part of a standards
movement that is nationwide. The courts will determine if the MCAS
graduation requirement meets legal and constitutional standards. While I
don't appreciate the punitive nature of the state and federal assessment
systems, we do have opportunities to use this information in positive ways
- to help guide our budgeting, to help improve classroom instruction, and
to provide guidance to parents and students.
As the current president of Cambridge Community TV, no one appreciates
more than I the importance of having the public participate in civic
affairs. Cambridge has a long tradition, and I'm very proud of our history
of empowering parents in our Cambridge public schools. For more than two
decades, I have prioritized the active involvement of parents and
students, and even citizens at large. School Councils, a new element of
education reform, is a powerful way for parents to be involved. I have
demanded that these councils operate actively.
Also, the schools should be available to the community at large to help
rebuild decades of declining public participation. A few years ago, I read
Robert Putnam's book called "Bowling Alone" about how people are
pretty much disengaging from public and even social activities. We see it
in the smaller number of candidates for public office as well.
That's another reason that I support public access to our school
facilities, including the auditoriums, gyms, and meeting rooms.