MHUSD Trustee Rossi to run for County School Board

Morgan Hill Times May 27, 2014

After spending her first term on the Morgan Hill Unified School District Board of Education championing programs that target at-risk local youth, Claudia Rossi wants to expand her reach by running for the Santa Clara County Board of Education.

“I’m taking that same energy to really a larger area,” said Rossi, who is nearing the end of her initial four-year term with the MHUSD Board. “If you talk to people in Morgan Hill, you will find that I am very present, very available and very accessible and ready to listen.”

Rossi said she has started to visit schools from other districts that make up Area 7—the County seat she hopes to win in the November elections—so she can hear their concerns and ideas. The seat is currently held by former MHUSD Trustee Julia Hover Smoot, who is also a Morgan Hill resident.

“What I hope to do is bring a fresh perspective,” said Rossi, whose announcement comes nearly six months before voters head to the polls. “I wanted to give voters a longer period of time to get to know me and to be able to reach me through their groups or individually.”

MHUSD Board President Don Moody said Rossi has his endorsement and would be “a good addition” as well as “a voice of reason with that group” on the County Board.

“She’s always prepared for our board meetings. She does her homework. She tries really hard to get both sides of the story before she makes a decision,” said Moody, who has served on the MHUSD board since 2004 and whose seat is one of four up for election. “She cares deeply about the children in our district, so more children will benefit should she be elected to the county.”

Since being elected to the MHUSD Board in Nov. 2010, Rossi has spearheaded the creation of a sports mentoring afterschool program—which allows middle school students and local police officers to engage in a positive way. Additionally, and along with other community leaders and educators, Rossi started Project Roadmap, a program geared toward students who would be the first in their families to attend college.

“One of my concerns when I was first elected was the middle school student who does not have an opportunity for afterschool activities and who doesn’t have parents who are in position to drive them to little league or karate or soccer,” Rossi explained.

The sports mentoring program, which meets biweekly Tuesdays and Thursdays, supplies transportation for those students from Britton and Martin Murphy middle schools to the Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Complex.

“It took a full year to get off the ground,” said Rossi, who also advocated for bringing a dual immersion program to the district, as well as the placement of a Spanish-speaking liaison at each MHUSD school site. San Martin/Gwinn Elementary School’s dual immersion program is about to complete its second year.

“Parent engagement was one of my platforms and something I devoted a lot of my time to; engaging parents through academic conferences,” Rossi said.

Rossi, the South County Outreach Coordinator for the YMCA’s Project Cornerstone, said her focus at the county level will continue to be on alternative education schools, early childhood education programs and professional development for local districts.

“I have a strong interest in students who need that extra assistance, at-risk youth and early childhood education,” said Rossi, who visited the County’s Odyssey Community School earlier in her term.

More recently, Rossi said MHUSD’s partnership with the Santa Clara County Office of Education in developing the frameworks for a pair of focus academies that will be instituted next school term inspired her to run for the County Board.

“I would be very interested in finding out how much districts know about how much the county can offer them,” said Rossi, a 2013 California Peace Award recipient. “They offer a great deal. Professional development is just one way they support local districts by innovating and bringing more choices to a community.”

Area 7 encompasses schools within Morgan Hill Unified, Gilroy Unified, Evergreen, and a portion of Oak Grove and East Side Union High districts.