School Committee member urges faster mayoral election

Dear members of the City Council:

I wish to express my concerns regarding the process for choosing the mayor, and thus the chair and seventh member of the School Committee. The current system does not allow the committee to vote or have an official say in who will chair our committee. Instead, we must sit by, as does the rest of the community, while deliberations take place within the council. Although I understand the importance and sensitivity of these conversations, the longer the delay in having permanent chairs for both our bodies, the greater the challenge to our important and vital work.

As you are all aware, the Cambridge Public Schools are undergoing a significant restructuring (the Innovation Agenda, or IA).  Since the vote in March, the committee, superintendent, administration, teachers and community have been working tirelessly to move forward and prepare for the upcoming changes. There is an enormous amount of work to be done to ensure our new middle schools and our restructured elementary schools are ready for September.

Over the next two months the committee has the following meetings scheduled:

Today: Retreat to discuss districtwide goals

Jan. 17: Regular committee meeting, presentation on academic challenge at the upper schools.

Jan. 21: Public meeting/interview of the eight finalists for the for upper school dean position

Jan. 24: Budget retreat with specific focus on the Innovation Agenda

Jan. 31: Budget retreat-District budget for next fiscal year

Feb. 7: Regular committee meeting, vote on academic challenge recommendation from Jan. 17 meeting and a presentation on math and science curriculum for the new upper schools

Feb. 14: Closed-door session to discuss union contract negotiations

Although I have complete confidence in councillor Ken Reeves to serve diligently as our temporary chairman, I don’t believe it is fair to him, the committee or most importantly the school district for the committee not to have its permanent team in place for these significant decisions.

I know there is a great deal that goes into choosing a mayor, with the committee being only one component, but it is, in my opinion, chairing the committee that is the most significant role the mayor plays. Please take into consideration our schedule and the significant amount of work that lies ahead.

Thank you and please consider reconvening your body before your next scheduled meeting of Jan. 24 to select a mayor.

Thank you,

Marc McGovern, Cambridge School Committee

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