Long-time Massachusetts state representative Martin Walsh officially became Boston's new mayor this morning and, according to the mayor himself, the selection of a new schools chief will be a collaborative endeavor.
Over the weekend, Walsh told a local television interviewer that he intends to appoint a search committee to help him and his panel of appointed school board members to select a superintendent to helm the city's school system of 57,000 students. He also said the search would be national in scope. Since Carol Johnson retired last August, John McDonogh, the district's long-time chief financial officer, has been serving as interim superintendent.
In his inaugural speech, Walsh said he wants Boston's next superintendent to be a "proven urban education leader who shares my commitment to eliminating the achievement gap, universal early education, high school reform, inclusion programs, dual-language programs, a new approach to school construction, and expanded, high-quality career and technical training."
The selection process is likely to play out over several months and with some public input, a contrast to what unfolded in New York City. There, after weeks of speculation, new Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that veteran educator Carmen Fariña was his pick for the city's schools chancellor.
By design, a superintendent's selection in Boston involves more people than it does in New York. The Boston mayor appoints members to the city's school board, and that panel ultimately hires a superintendent. Mayor Walsh, though, will have plenty of sway over who is ultimately chosen.
Public school students were a prominent part of Walsh's inaugural ceremonies, including children from two of the city's charter schools. Students from the Neighborhood House Charter School, a high-performing charter school, and the Boston Arts Academy, one of the district's pilot schools, led the inaugural Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. The choir from the Renaissance Boston Charter School performed an original song.
Walsh's campaign for mayor focused heavily on his ideas and plans for improving the city's schools, including the expansion of prekindergarten seats and his support for lifting a cap on the number of charter schools allowed to open in Boston.