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Braintree School Committee member resigns to finish college degree

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  January 8, 2013 03:05 PM

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Braintree’s School Committee will be looking for a new member, after one of their existing members resigned this month.

The 22-year-old Joe Zarella, a senior political science major at Bridgewater State University, has served on the committee for a total of three years, but has resigned to finish his final semester at a school in Washington D.C.

“I thought with the budget and full-day kindergarten…that there needs to be a full committee of seven members,” Zarella said in a phone interview. “I thought stepping down would allow someone else to be a full-time member while I’m away.”

Zarella first stepped into the role as a 19-year-old in 2009 after Sean Powers was elected to the Town Council, leaving the seat vacant.

Zarella lost this most recent election in 2011 for the seat. However, when Kelly Foley declined to fill the seat due to personal reasons, Zarella was brought back on board.

In his three years on the board, Zarella said he is proudest of helping creating a pilot full-day kindergarten program.

“We have over 180 students that participate in that,” Zarella said. “And I think starting a budget subcommittee to evaluate what we can do better and enacting an audit to evaluate our finances [has been an accomplishment]. Though that hasn’t come to fruition yet, it’s still in the process, when that is all said and done, we will find some savings that will be helpful to our school.”

Along with being a full-time student and member of the School Committee, Zarella has worked as a legislative aide at the State House.

He sees himself continuing that role after graduation.

“I’ll probably continue to do that,” Zarella said. “I don’t really know what’s going to happen. I haven’t put too much thought, but I do enjoy working in government and I’m sure it’s something I will continue to do in the future.”

Zarella said his resignation will be a departure from the School Committee for good, though he will definitely return to Braintree after his time in DC is through. He hasn't yet determined where he'll be completing his studies. He has applied for several internships -- including a consulting group, a think tank, and a congressional office -- and will be taking a class in Washington.

For Braintree Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg, Zarella’s departure is a loss to the group.

“Joe has always been conscientious in terms of learning about the issues and making thoughtful and informed decisions, and also very [had] thoughtful contributions to the discussions that went on in the various topics discussed,” Kurzberg said. “He’s an extremely bright young man with a passion I think that was demonstrated in every School Committee meeting and a sincere concern and interest in helping make the Braintree schools better for student and staff.”

The organization has already started advertising for a replacement. Deadlines for people to submit resumes and cover letters is Jan. 23.

Kurzberg expects that a new member will be picked within a week or two of that date.

That person will “serve on the School Committee … until the next election in November, at which time that individual or any individuals could run to fill what will remain as a two-year seat on the School Committee.”

Individuals should submit their information to The Braintree School Committee, 348 Pond Street, Braintree MA 02184.

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