Fred Fantini

Fred Fantini
2005 Candidate for Cambridge School Committee

Home address:
4 Canal Park
Cambridge MA 02141

Contact information:

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  • Master's Degree in Management with a specialized graduate certificate in Diversity from Cambridge College in May 1999.
  • Bachelor's Degree in Accounting and Finance from Bentley College.
  • Brings twenty-five years experience as a municipal finance professional as Deputy Treasurer for the Town of Arlington.
  • Unique record of linking fiscal priorities, educational goals, and standards and measures of accountability in a strategic planning format.
  • Experienced on both sides of the collective bargaining table representing management on the Cambridge School Committee and workers with labor as Vice President of SEIU/NAGE local 113.
  • Served for twenty-four years as a member of the Cambridge School Committee.
  • Sponsor Cambridge Little League-Major League Braves
  • Sponsor Cambridge Girls Softball.
  • Endorsed: Greater Boston Labor Council, Carpenters Local 40-Cambridge; Service Employees Union-Local 888, National Governmental Employees Association.

Top Priorities:
The School Committee, as a team, sets goals each year and works with and thru the Superintendent to achieve these goals. The goals, which I helped draft last year were as follows:

  1. Raise Achievement Levels for All Students. Focus and align school improvement and individual departmental goals to raise achievement for all students and to close the achievement gap.
  2. Establish Powerful and Effective Tools to Evaluate Student Performance and Professional Staff Performance. More fully develop the system for evaluation of student learning and personnel.
  3. Create a National Caliber High School. Support the high school principal to strengthen the CRLS educational community towards a goal of student achievement and safety comparable to the top urban high school in the state and nation.

Upon completion of the superintendent's annual evaluation, we will revise goals and add new ones. My priorities include:

  • Focusing on high academic achievement for all students, especially students at risk for underperformance or failure. This means setting high standards, making sure staff apply them to every child, and doing what it takes to help kids get there.
  • Improving communications with citizens, parents and students that will encourage understanding, belief, and investment in our system and support from the city as a whole. This school system has turned the corner, but we have to continue and we have to make sure that people know how well we're doing. We also have to prove to students, parents, and other taxpayers that their views and their needs are respected.

Role of the School Committee:
School Committee has the following legal responsibilities that take considerable time and effort:

  1. To hire the Superintendent of Schools
  2. To approve the budget
  3. To set policy in dozens of areas that affect students and their families.

The school committee annually evaluates the Superintendent and sets goals for the system to achieve.

We also have a moral and ethical responsibility to help promote our schools. That means we fight for good policies, legislation that gets us support and state financial assistance, and work with our local media and with the citizens to make sure everyone supports the schools.

Elementary School Programs and Administration:
We have linked our budget priorities to well documented school needs. We'll use information from student tests and other sources to make sure that the money is well spent. This is what we did and should continue to do.

School Improvement Plans written each year by each school with the assistance of their School Improvement Councils, comprised of parents, staff and administrations, provide a blue print for individual school improvement. The School Committee supports these plans by providing School Improvement Funds, which this year was set at an unprecedented level. They facilitate school based initiates and support educational staffing levels. This year, except for cuts because of enrollment decline, we were able to retain our professional staff and provide significant professional development funds for all schools. We also increased funding for supplies and materials. New programs like Springboard, a Science Research and Design Camp, were implemented. The school committee placed significant funds into a capital plan to bring the resources of our older schools to a true state-of-the-art level.

Budget stability, continued professional development, solid evaluation systems for programs and staff will ensure our continued improvement so long as we make good financial planning and academic planning a unified process.

High School Programs and Administration:
The Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS), the city's public high school, continues to make major advances. The school has received full and unqualified accreditation. This year CRLS has implemented block scheduling that allows students more instruction time during the school day. Significant professional development took place prior to the implementation to allow for a smooth transition and successful opening of school.

More than 91% of the graduating class of 2005 passed the MCAS tests, a six percent increase form 2004. Even more impressive is news that 90 % of the Class of 2005 fulfilled graduation requirements, a 12 percent improvement from 2004. We are committed to even better performance.

Cambridge can take great pride in the ongoing revitalization of the Rindge School of Technical Arts. RSTA earned FULL APPROVAL from the state Department of Education this year. RSTA now offers eight quality programs. Besides acquiring a level of technical skills now in high demand in today's workplace, RSTA students meet all academic requirements of traditional high schools. I have been a passionate supporter and leader ensuring quality vocational opportunities for our children.

School Department Administration and the Budget:
Nowhere is the job of a school committee more challenging and difficult than when we prepare and set the school budget. The school committee in the past few years has made difficult decisions to consolidate schools and made significant cuts to administration. I served as the Budget co-chair for two of these difficult years. Difficult decisions made resources available to support a lot of areas like keeping new teachers from losing their jobs, providing significant school improvement funding to schools, providing significant professional development funds, creating a first class Science Initiative, and not charging activity fees to play sports or participate in extra curricular activities.

We have a competent and hard working leadership team that provides support for all our programs. Administrators provide service to all our schools.

Teacher Evaluations and Teachers Contract:
The school committee negotiates labor contracts with several unions. Here, we represent the public and must take responsible management stances. We can take price that our agreements require strong accountability for our staff. A new teacher and administrative evaluation system is now in place. The School Committee and Teachers Union negotiated the contract. The evaluation process is an important facet to improve our system. The School Committee and the Teachers Union have a positive relationship-both parties share a common goal of academic achievement for all our students. Parents should be pleased to know we have a solid core of highly qualified teachers. This year we have hired approximately 85 new teachers.

State/Federal Role in Local Education:
Public education is subject to Federal and State regulations. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) establishes benchmarks, known as Adequate Yearly Progress, that each school system must meet each year for all its students and subgroup of students. The goal is for every school system to have all its students achieve proficiency by the year 2014. If the AYP process is not enough, there exists a series of actions that must take place. The Commonwealth of Mass uses Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) to comply with the NCLB act.

It's important to note that many Federal mandates, like Special Education, are under funded by more than $50 billion, despite law that sets the extensive requirements we must meet.

Declining Enrollment:
Declining enrollment comes as a result of many things. The cost of housing has forced many families out. We have more private and charter school options than most communities have. Even with that, Cambridge continues to provide great services at every level. Our high school graduates attend the nation's best colleges, go on to good jobs, and pursue good careers with the background they get from CRLS. We are still able to attract students from across the whole economic, racial, and cultural spectrums.

Charter Schools:
One provision of the Educational Reform Act of 1993 allows for two kinds of charter schools. One very good model is the Horace Mann School model which functions like an independent school within the school system. The Boston Public Schools have been effective using this model and has created many Horace Mann Schools. The president of the Teachers Union supports this concept. I have asked the Superintendent to determine how many of our elementary schools might be interested in becoming a Horace Mann School.

There is another form of charter called Commonwealth Charter schools. They are independent and are not accountable in any way to Cambridge citizens, but they draw our state financial assistance away from us. We believe it is an unfair system and needs to be corrected with legislation. Many charter schools have large reserve fund balances. Others are segregated. They don't serve students with special needs well. I have fought to stop the creation of Commonwealth Charter Schools in Cambridge primarily because of the funding flaws and the fact that the concept of taking "best practices" learned in Charter Schools and duplicating them in public schools simply does not happen. It is important to know, however, that Charter schools do provide choices for parents which is very popular and once a Charter school opens in a community one must remember that our children go there and we must develop a genuine cooperative relationship with them.

Page last updated July 01, 2007 Cambridge Candidates