Voters wanted an elected school committee; Mayor Wu wants a hybrid
Five months after Boston voters overwhelmingly said they wanted an elected school committee, a spokesman for Mayor Michelle Wu on Friday said she supports a mix of elected and appointed committee members, rather than a solely elected body.
“The mayor’s stance hasn’t changed,” Ricardo Patron said. “The mayor supports a hybrid school committee because it allows for some mayoral accountability.”
But Lisa Green, chairwoman of Bostonians for an Elected School Committee, disagreed with that model.
“Our committee campaigned on a fully elected school committee and won Question 3 with 79% of the vote, winning every precinct in every ward in Boston,” Green said. “Over the past 30 years, Boston voters have seen that mayoral appointments haven’t had the intended effect of creating mayoral accountability.”
“As the home rule petition process is moving into specifics of the new structure, we’re disappointed that the mayor hasn’t engaged in more detail,” Green said. “We had hoped that she would share the sense of urgency we feel to fulfill such an undeniable mandate. We look forward to engaging with the mayor and city council to create a structure that will provide truly accountable decision makers for BPS.”
A City Council hearing on the matter is scheduled for April 11.
In November, more than 99,000 – 79% of Boston voters, compared to the 64% who elected Wu – said they wanted to replace the current model of a school committee made up of mayoral appointees with one consisting of elected members.
Whether the City Council will agree is unclear, but it would be difficult to send a home rule petition to the state Legislature for approval without Wu’s support.
“The mayor’s voice and leadership is critical for the success of students in the system,” Council President Ed Flynn said. “It’s important that the mayor and the City Council work together in these challenging times to improve our schools and provide resources for our Boston Public Schools families.”
The school committee’s current members will serve the remainder of their terms, except for the student member, who will be up for election in September.
Last December, At-Large Councilor Julia Mejia and City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo began the public engagement process for finalizing the home rule petition to reorganize the school committee.
Dozens of people attended the hearing, which lasted for nearly 3 hours.
The councilors did not return calls Friday seeking comment.
Boston is the state’s only municipality where voters do not elect their school committee.
“What would an elected school committee look like?” said Ruby Reyes, executive director of the Boston Education Justice Alliance. “Would it mirror the City Council?”
The committee first became an appointed body in 1991, two years after an advisory ballot question passed by a slim margin, mandating the change.