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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


February 28, 2014  RSS feed
Rabbinically Speaking

Text: T T T

Schools chief meet lays foundation for better relations

By Rabbi GARY KLEIN Temple Ahavat Shalom Palm Harbor

On Thursday afternoon, Feb. 13, several of my rabbinic colleagues and I met with Dr. Michael Grego, superintendent of the Pinellas County Schools. There were three issues that led us to request a meeting with Dr. Grego. One was our desire to attempt to reestablish the close relationship that once existed between the members of the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis and two of Dr. Grego’s predecessors, Dr. Scott Rose and Dr. Howard Hinesley. During the years of Dr. Rose’s and Dr. Hinesley’s tenures, there was very close interaction between the Board of Rabbis and the Superintendent of Schools. During the years between Dr. Hinesley’s retirement and Dr. Grego’s appointment, despite the efforts of the rabbis, it became difficult to maintain those relationships.

The second reason we wanted to meet with Dr. Grego was to assure him that he can count on us to serve as liaisons to the Jewish community in his efforts to provide better education for students in Pinellas County Schools and thereby create a better community. Our third reason for meeting with Dr. Grego was to attempt to prevail upon him to reschedule some of this year’s FCAT testing so that at least April 15, the first day of Passover, would be a time when no exams would be given.

Our meeting with Dr. Grego was most productive. It enabled him to see that the rabbis are aware of the many difficulties he faces in his work. Our meeting also gave him a chance to share with us his decency and open mind. This meeting was my introduction to Dr. Grego. I came away from that meeting with a sense that he is a good man who is respectful of all human beings, sensitive to the concerns of the Jewish community and committed to providing the best education for Pinellas County’s 110,000 students. I also got the clear sense that he will make every effort to adjust this year’s FCAT scheduling. Furthermore, he made a commitment to do everything possible to assure that such conflict would not occur again.

We pointed out to Dr. Grego the serious hardships that scheduling a test as important as the FCAT on the morning after the first Seder would impose upon Jewish students. Dr. Grego made us aware that his efforts to be sensitive to our concerns are made more difficult by the fact that the government of our state not only imposes strict limitations upon when the FCAT can be administered, but also strictly regulates when, during the summer, schools can open for the year. Perhaps we can play a role in obtaining more flexibility for our and other school boards and superintendents by lobbying our state legislators and requesting that flexibility. I do not envy Dr. Grego’s position. He must balance the concerns I just mentioned and many others in order to provide a good experience for all his students. I am confident, however, regarding the sincerity of the commitments he made in the presence of the rabbis. No matter what happens in regard to this year’s FCAT scheduling, the Jewish community can look forward to a relationship with Dr. Grego and the school system he leads, that will reflect sensitivity to our concerns and appreciation of our role in this community.

The Rabbinically Speaking column is provided as a public service by the Jewish Press in cooperation with the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis. Columns are assigned, on a rotating basis by the board.

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