John Grieco

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John Grieco

Dr. John Grieco
Born 1941
Died 10/2/2004
Englewood
Cause of death Heart Attack
Nationality American
Alma mater Manhattan College; MA -religious studies

Catholic University of America; BA in Theoreticl physics

Columbia Univ Teacher's coll. EdD
Occupation Superintendent
Years active 2002-2004
Employer Englewood Schools
Known for Educator
Spouse(s) divorced
Children Joy, Charity and Andrea


John Grieco - is notable as having been a major driving force in the development of the Englewood Public Schools system. Dr. Grieco earned his doctorate degree in Religion and Education from Columbia University Teacher's College. He graduated from Manhattan College with a M.A. in Religious Studies and an M.S. in Theoretical Physics. He received a B.A. in Theoretical Physics from Catholic University of America. [1]Dr. Grieco began his career in education as a mathematics and science teacher, while serving as a Christian Brother. He later worked for the New Jersey Department of Education in the areas of adult, higher, and vocational education. He joined Bergen County Technical Schools in 1979 as Director of Adult Education.

He had run the county's technical schools since 1984, its special education programs since 1995 and Englewood's public schools since 2002. [2] No history of Englewood is complete without mention of a man who, in a tragically short period of two years, had an immensely positive effect on our Public Schools and on the community which they serve. That man was Dr. John Grieco, who is permanently commemorated in the beautiful new school building on Durie Avenue which is named after him. He was a highly respected educator, an innovator, and an effective leader. Grieco took the reins as Superintendent of our school system in 2002, at a time of disarray in the District and mounting opposition to school funding in the community. By the time he died suddenly in 2004, he had created the highly acclaimed Academies@Englewood, resolved a decade-long legal battle over desegregation, achieved funding for a substantial new school construction program, and created a new sense of hope for the future in the school community.

After an attempt by Englewood Cliffs, which has no high school, some years earlier, to end its sending-receiving relationship with Dwight-Morrow High School and send its students to to Tenafly, a series of legal actions had culminated in a New Jersey Supreme Court directive requiring the State Board of Education to eliminate “de facto segregation” at DMHS. In an effort to comply, the State Board had proposed a regionalization plan, which died following strenuous opposition from neighboring communities.

Grieco, in the meantime, had achieved considerable success transforming the former Bergen County Technical Schools in Hackensack into “career academies.” The new schools offered college-level training in such disciplines as business and finance, medical technology, and computer science. The teachers were specially selected and school hours extended. There grew to be a long waiting list of student applications for admission. He proposed creating similar academies in Englewood, which would attract students from other communities and hopefully thus address the racial imbalance issue there. Grieco was hired in 2002 as Superintendent of Schools in Englewood, and in short order established the Academies@Englewood as he had outlined. The Supreme Court then accepted this solution as meeting its requirement.

Some years before Grieco’s arrival in Englewood the Board of Education had retained a consultant to recommend the steps necessary to bring the City’s antiquated school facilities up to modern standards. The consultant’s final report recommended extensive new construction and renovation, with an estimated total cost of about $90 million. For various reasons no action had been taken to implement any significant part of this recommendation. On the other hand, opposition to any such large expenditure had grown in the community, and a movement was started by those in opposition to change Englewood’s traditional appointed Board of Education to an elected Board as is usual in other communities. A referendum calling for such a change was approved by the voters in 2000, and then began efforts to elect Board members who would oppose large capital spending.

After Grieco had been appointed by the new elected Board in 2002, the consultant’s report was reviewed and a substantially less costly plan was eventually devised. The new plan, including significant financial assistance from the State of New Jersey and from the City, with the balance to be funded by bonding, was presented to the voters in a referendum in 2004. After initially losing by a small margin, the referendum was resubmitted and won by 1000 votes. Campaigning was vigorous, both for and against.

At the same time, an important election took place for membership on the Board of Education. Every year three members of the nine-member Board are elected. Those opposing the referendum held four seats at the time and with one more would have had a majority. A new organization called SEEK was formed to identify and elect candidates favoring the construction plan. All three of its candidates were elected and implementation of the plan proceeded. [3]

Grieco died suddenly and unexpectedly at age 63 in October, 2004, and was succeeded by his long-time associate, Carol Lisa. His positive impact on Englewood was considerable and deserves to be remembered.

References

  1. Wildes, Michael (10/4/2004). "Englewood Mourns Superintendent Dr. John Grieco". Obit.. Michael Wildes. http://www.michaelwildes.org/Grieco.htm. Retrieved 1/22/2015. 
  2. Glazer, Andrew (10/4/2004). "Educator John Grieco dies at 63". Obit.. The Record. http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-100380411.html. Retrieved 1/22/2015. 
  3. Davis, Norman (2004). "John Grieco (1941-2004)". Norman Davis -EHS President.