My name is Peter Cronin. I have lived in Groton for almost 10 years with my wife, Gina, who grew up here and attended Groton-Dunstable public schools.
We have three children, all currently in the school system — two at the Middle School and one at Florence Roche. We share our home with my in-laws who have, themselves, been residents in the town of Groton for over 40 years.
Locally, I serve on the Board of Directors for Groton Youth Baseball where I have also coached for the past eight years. I also volunteer with the Jericho Circle Project, an organization that introduces incarcerated men to the work of self-discovery and emotional growth and helps them build the skills necessary to re-vision and to reinvent their lives.
I am running for office because I believe that when it comes to education in our district, we have a spending problem. This problem has been going on since 2010. And it has not been addressed. Rather it has been perpetuated by the School Committee over that period of time.
The problem, as I see it, is we’ve made a conscious choice as a community to reduce our spending on education. Since 2010, our spending on education has grown at a rate of 1.1 percent a year, or nearly 50 percent below the rate of inflation, while we continue to make investments in “higher priorities” in town.
This dramatic departure from the approach taken over the prior decade, when our spending on education was increasing consistently by nearly 5 percent a year, has landed us dead last in education spending per capita among 11 “comparable towns.” That is towns of similar population, similar household incomes, and similar property values (per the town of Groton’s Budget and Benchmarking Analysis, 2015).
And while towns like Littleton and Westford are increasing their spending on education, Groton is headed in the other direction. We are now in the company of Ayer and Shirley as the only “surrounding” towns that are trending down in education spending per capita. And that’s not OK with me.
I am choosing to get involved because I have skills and experience that are desperately needed on the School Committee at this important and precarious time. Over my career in marketing and research analytics, I have developed critical strengths in understanding constituent needs, strategic planning, marketing, budgeting and consensus-building. I’m an innovative and strategic thinker who will constructively question the status quo.
I have a master’s degree in marketing research from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics from Boston University. My career has included senior leadership positions with two local fast-growth startups, both of which were eventually acquired by global companies. In each case, my role was to ensure that the organizations were developing new products and communications that met the needs of their constituents, and to measure the effectiveness of various programs and campaigns. In both organizations, I was exposed to, included in, and eventually played a leadership role in the strategic planning process, including vision-setting, annual planning, budgeting and forecasting.
In between stints with the start-ups, I co-founded a research and brand strategy firm where I served as Chief Learning Officer and COO for nearly six years. During this time, I was also appointed to the Vestry (Board or Directors) and ultimately to Senior Warden (COO) positions at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Acton. In that role, I led the strategic planning process, the annual budgeting process, and ensured that the needs of diverse segments of the population (sometimes in conflict with each other) were heard and considered. In my two-year tenure, we managed to stabilize a declining budget, and restore and ultimately expand critical programs, while building membership and revenues to historic levels.
I currently work for Papa Gino’s, Inc. as the vice president of insights and strategy, where I serve on the company’s executive team and have leadership roles in marketing strategy, market research, and innovation. I am part of a “turnaround” team that is bringing fresh thinking, new perspectives and sound strategic leadership to an iconic New England brand. I chose this position because it was challenging, and because I thought it was a winnable situation with the right vision and tenacity.
I see many parallels between my current role and the situation in the Groton-Dunstable School District. Both face substantial challenges, and fixing them won’t be easy. Neither challenge can be solved with the current thinking. New perspectives are needed as previous leaderships have been trying unsuccessfully for years to break out of the current downward spirals. Finally, both situations are winnable. In fact, under the same constraints, the district has flourished as recently as a decade ago. I believe that we’ve just lost our way — and it’s time to assemble a team that will get us back on the right track.
I believe in the concept of community and shared purpose. I also believe that diversity of thinking and constructive conflict serve the public good. I am committed to clear, direct communication and transparency, and will hold myself and the work of the School Committee accountable to residents of the town of Groton if given the opportunity to serve.
I ask you to join me in a refusal to accept the status quo and to demand more from your elected officials. And I respectfully ask for your vote on May 19.
LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/pub/peter-cronin/0/241/4b3/en