To the Editor:
While I voted for the hiring policy change on December 19, 2019 to align with the new state statute now in effect as of January 1, 2020 to give full appointing power to the superintendent, I only did so because the policy is the best policy we can create due to the circumstances.
However, I will state that I do not support this change. Up to now, the School Committee has had the ability to consent on appointments for a reason – that reason being accountability. We as elected School Committee members are representatives of the community on school matters in this city. It is a responsibility I take very seriously. As representatives of the community and therefore the community’s voice, I believe that the School Committee should have a say in who enters our community schools.
While principals and school improvement teams are now more involved in the hiring process, which I completely support, according to the new state statute, the superintendent has the final say on appointments. Candidly, I am not comfortable with a superintendent having both appointing and consenting authority. Also, every faculty member I have spoken with about this issue wants the School Committee to have the ability to consent on appointments.
What this new state statute means is not completely clear to us on the Warwick School Committee, since some of the language is ambiguous, which does not make me feel more comfortable about this change. The only thing that is clear with this new state statute is that School Committees are completely out of the hiring process. I have concerns that nepotism and favoritism will rise due to this change, whether from upper administration or principals, since the School Committee no longer has oversight on appointments.
I fought this bill at the State House. Unfortunately, not enough people spoke out about the issue, and therefore the bill went through pretty quickly and took many school committees by surprise. This change will not benefit our students, faculty, schools, the city of Warwick, or our community, and I am sorry that we, as a school committee, will not be able to be as accountable as we have been in the past.
Member of the Warwick School Committee