Monday (tonight) at 6:30 an organizational meeting of the newly formed elected Board of Education is scheduled to take place at the Aquaculture School with Mayor Bill Finch chairing the process to select officers. Will they all make nice?
The new Democrats on the board Jacqueline Kelleher, Hernan Illingworth and Ken Moales join Tom Mulligan, Leticia Colon and Bobby Simmons. The remaining three members–Maria Pereira, Sauda Baraka and John “Bags” Bagley–all were elected running on the Working Families Party line. Bagley was the fourth member elected in last Tuesday’s special election. Prior to the elected board dissolving itself in July of last year in favor of state control that was overturned by the Connecticut Supreme Court, Pereira, Baraka and Simmons had generally voted in a bloc including their vote against vaporizing local control. Will Bags join the opposition bloc as one of the four new board members?
The first course of business tonight is selection of school board officers. This also represents the first meeting that includes Superintendent of Schools Paul Vallas with an elected body.
One of the arguments made by supporters for state control was the ferocious opposition from the minority voting bloc that led to claims of a dysfunctional mess to the detriment of the students. In November city voters will decide if they want to continue with an elected school board or support the mayor’s charter revision proposal to appoint the body. No doubt a contrast will be pitched to voters showing the tranquility on the board during the year of a state-appointed school board versus the old days of bickering that blocked progress. If the fighting resumes with this elected board does it play into the hands of supporters of an appointed body? Pereira, Baraka, Simmons and Bagley are all opposed to a mayoral-appointed school board.
Meanwhile, Leticia Colon, barred by the City Charter to keep both her school board and City Council positions, resigned from the legislative body on Friday. City Council members will choose her replacement. From the City Charter:
(d) Whenever a vacancy occurs, for any reason, in the membership of the city council, such vacancy shall be filled for the unexpired portion of the term by a majority vote of the city council members from the same political party as the council member vacating such office. If there are no other members from the same political party as the member vacating such office, the vacancy shall be filled by majority vote of the whole number of council members. No person shall be elected to fill a vacancy on the city council unless he/she is a resident and registered voter of the city and is a member of the same political party as the person vacating such office. No person shall be elected to fill a vacancy in the office of any council member unless he/she is also a resident and registered voter in the same council district as the person vacating such office.