Joe Grassi

Joseph Grassi
2003 Candidate for Cambridge School Committee

Home address:
393 Cambridge Street
Cambridge MA 02141

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I have served on the School Committee for 10 years. Presently work as a residential real estate appraiser. Prior 14 years of experience working with City's youth in youth centers. Founding member of two youth leagues, Cambridge Girls Softball and Pop Warner. Advocate for increased open space and recreational facilities throughout the City. Lifelong resident of Cambridge, graduate of Cambridge Public Schools, Northeastern University, U.S. Army Reserve 1987- 1994: Veteran Persian Gulf War.

Role of the School Committee:
The most important role of the School Committee is to establish educational goals and to evaluate the Superintendent on achieving the goals. I have been vigilant and honest in my evaluation of the past two Superintendents. The evaluation take place during the process each year, at School Committee meetings and at every other opportunity to give honest feedback. Two other roles of the Committee are to set policies and to manage and approve the budget. The role of the Committee is not to manage the day-to-day activities of the Superintendent or other employees. Some School Committee Members have crossed this line of roles and responsibilities.

Elementary School Consolidation:
Supported the plan recommended by the Superintendent of Schools. Consolidation was the best option to deal with the issue of over-staffing and dwindling enrollment. Consolidation successfully reallocated resources to schools and made a more efficient use of our buildings. The plan better utilized staff to offer a stable grade and staffing structure for our schools that enabled many of middle schools to have teachers in appropriate curriculum areas. The plan diversified most of the schools affected.

Restructuring of the High School:
Supported the restructuring of CRLS and successfully fought attempts to restore the choice/segregation system at the high school. I advocated and will continue to support the renewal of vocational education as an important choice for students. I support heterogeneous classes, but with support of professional development of teachers to work with a diverse student population. The high school needs consistent leadership that can be held accountable for student achievement. The problems at CRLS are indicative of K-12 issues. We need to focus on the development and agreement on assessments, support benchmarks for student learning and need to develop a promotion policy for grades K-12 along with interventions to assist students who are not achieving at grade level. Key to gauging the success of the high school is not in the structure of the school, but the outcome of student achievement.

Academic Excellence and Goals for the Cambridge Public Schools:
The School Committee is close to approving goals that have been agreed to by the Superintendent and the School Committee. The goals focus on measurable goals of achievement. The evaluation of the Superintendent will focus on these goals and in turn all employees will be evaluated by the Superintendent based on these same goals. The key to academic excellence is placing a focus on a set of assessments and utilizing them to determine the alignment of the curriculum and effectiveness and quality of instruction. A promotion policy needs to be implemented and will be coupled with interventions to ensure steps are take to help students achieve at grade level.

School Budget:
A challenging issue and a great opportunity for the Cambridge Public Schools. Seventy percent of the budget is allocated towards staffing and benefits. All non-teaching positions in the Cambridge School System need to be evaluated for their purpose and need. All non-teaching positions also need to be evaluated to ensure that job description matches salary. A large increase in last year's budget has to do with increases in out-placement tuition for special education students. We need to evaluate our school resources to better meet the needs of our special education students who are being sent to private placements.

I support MCAS as a tool to assess the achievement of our students. The MCAS also identifies the accuracy of the alignment of the curriculum and effectiveness of the instruction. The accountability of the MCAS also presses the question of what interventions are taking place to help children who are not achieving at grade level. The Superintendent needs to develop other timely measures of assessment to assist classrooms to intervene with students that are not achieving at grade level. Members of the School Committee need to move beyond the philosophical debate over the test and focus on students not achieving at grade level.

Civic participation:
Ward 1 Democratic Committee Member: 1990 - Present
Founding Member, Former Board Member and Sponsor, Cambridge Girls Softball
Founding Member, Advisory Board Member, Cambridge Pop Warner
Board Member Emeritus, East End House
Sponsor, Little League Baseball T-Ball
Appointed by the City Manager to:
Frisoli Youth Center Building Committee
Cambridge Street Renovation Committee
Donnelly Field Renovation Committee
Green Ribbon Open Space Committee
Russell Field/Danehy Track Committee

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