BPS committee tells parents: New superintendent on job by July 1

A crowd of more than 200 people attended the Monday night meeting at the Frederick School. Photo by Lauren Dezenski

Boston Public Schools officials expressed hope Monday night that the new superintendent will be selected and seated by the beginning of July.

The timeline was laid out at the Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School during the final public meeting of this leg of the superintendent search process where moderator Bob Gittens said the committee will whittle down a field of more than 70 applicants from across the country down to between five and eight candidates by the end of this week. Gittens is a vice president at Northeastern University.

The 12-person search committee will interview the preferred candidates late this month, select the top three, and present them to the school committee and Mayor Martin Walsh for interviews. After that, the school committee will host public forums with the finalists before the selection is made in late February.
The more than 200 people who attended the meeting on Monday had been asked to lay out for school committee members what they want in a new superintendent.

“It’s very important that we hire a superintendent with collaboration efforts, with good management efforts,” said Kenny Jervis, a South Boston resident and longtime BPS activist with two children in the system. “We’ve lived under too many superintendents who come in with ideas that don’t work and we’re left with a system that has many different options that are working against each other.”

Roxbury resident Cara Mathews, who said she is currently deciding whether to place her three-and-a-half-year-old son in the public schools, wants a superintendent who is “present” and sensitive to the country’s racial climate, someone with “a very blunt realization that racism is real. We need to acknowledge that and be thoughtful. A focus on black and brown students that they are further behind.”

Mary Battenfield, a BPS parent for 14 years, complained that there was no student representation on the search committee and added that the panel should have worked harder to involve parents in the process. “Too many times I’ve read about decisions that affect me and my children in the newspaper,” she said. “Parents are not just another stakeholder.”

“We talk about the Olympics,” said Jervis as energy picked up in the crowd at the mention of the city’s bid for the 2024 summer games. “To think big, we can do it. But we need the best school buildings, the best school management, and the best school teachers, and then we can do it.”


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