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BPS to stay local with superintendent this time; the two finalists both live in Boston

Skipper and Welch

The Boston School Committee today announced its two finalists to replace Brenda Cassellius as Boston School Superintendent: Mary Skipper, currently Cassellius's counterpart in Somerville - and former network superintendent of BPS high schools - and Tommy Welch, currently the Region 1 K-12 superintendent for BPS, who oversees 15 schools in Charlestown, East Boston and the North End.

Both live in Boston. The past three BPS superintendents - Cassellius, Tommy Chang and Carol Johnson, were all hired from other states.

The School Committee will hold a series of public interviews of Skipper, starting at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, and a similar series of interviews with Welch on Friday. More details on the interviews, which will be livestreamed on Zoom.

According to BPS, Skipper:

[J]oined SPS in July of 2015 following an outstanding career at Boston Public Schools, and quickly made her mark in Somerville as an innovative and visionary thinker, a passionate advocate for all youth, and a strategic systems builder whose approach includes leveraging community resources to support students. Before going to Somerville, Superintendent Skipper was Network Superintendent of High Schools for BPS, where she oversaw 34 high schools serving approximately 19,500 students. During her time as Network Superintendent, Boston High Schools achieved the lowest drop-out and the highest graduation rates in BPS history. Among her most notable accomplishments while at BPS, Superintendent Skipper helped launch TechBoston Academy (TBA) as the founding Headmaster in 2002. Superintendent Skipper holds a Bachelor's in English and Latin from Tufts University. She earned a Master's in Education Policy from Harvard and a Master's in Education Leadership from Columbia Teachers College. Superintendent Skipper and her husband Peter reside in Dorchester and have three children.

According to BPS, Welch:

Supports 15 schools, serving over 7,000 students across Charlestown, East Boston, and the North End: two high schools, 12 elementary schools, and an early education center. Dr. Welch’s service in urban education spans over two decades. His work prioritizes the improvement of the academic outcomes of students and connects leaders and resources within the network to provide a coherent instructional vision for all schools. Prior to coming to BPS in 2015, Dr. Welch was the founding principal of a middle school and later a high school in the South Central neighborhood of Los Angeles. His classroom teaching experience focused on English learners and special education inclusion in the lower elementary grades, as well as English at the high school level. Dr. Welch is a graduate of Occidental College and the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2020, he earned his doctorate in Educational Leadership at Boston College. Dr. Welch lives in East Boston with his wife and is a parent of two BPS students.

Drew Echelson, currently deputy BPS superintendent of academics, will serve as acting BPS superintendent between June 30, when Cassellius leaves and the new superintendent takes office.

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Both candidates are strong leaders and know the system very well - we are lucky to have either one!

I've never felt more optimistic in the future of BPS than I do this morning.

Voting closed 30

No particular comment, but thanks as always for keeping us informed!

Voting closed 18

I can't keep up. Turnover rate is embarrassing.

Voting closed 14

Fresh approach.

Voting closed 13

This is such a no-win job. I hope one of these folks can actually make some progress.

Voting closed 28

Seriously, I'd rather be a drummer in Spinal Tap

There is no scenario in which this job ends well for anyone who takes it

Voting closed 2

Look, in my very long life, there’s been one good superintendent, and he was a very good superintendent who lasted a long time. There was bad before him (one head put his kids into METCO, because of faith in system?) and sketchy choices after him. Maybe the next head will be Payzant II.

Voting closed 17

Okay, so BLS's new Headmaster is the principal of the school seeing the fastest increase in %of white students system wide. and then we're looking to Somerville another area with massive gains in white students... and looking at a regional superintendent for North End, East Boston, Charlestown...

Should I just be quiet and assume this is all coincidence?

Somerville is a school district that also underperforms given the wealth of the city in terms of median HH income and lack of forced busing history...

Voting closed 2

According to the census bureau, Charlestown is over 75% white non-hispanic households, so an increase of students from these households to (a still very low) 23% of a neighborhood school’s population seems more like a mild vote of confidence in the school than some sort of secret gentrification plot. Non-white students are still vastly over-represented in the Harvard-Kent compared to that neighborhood’s overall demographics.

And if you have a problem with more white kids in the BPS you better prepare yourself - This demographic shift is going to be the case pretty much city-wide if a new superintendent manages to turn the system around and makes it more attractive to the city’s parents. Most of the %loss in enrollment over the last couple decades has come from white non-hispanic families. So a more representative school population will also mean one with an increased percentage of kids from that demographic.

P.s. btw what kind of whistle are you trying to blow by lumping together the north end, eastie and charlestown? Eastie non-hispanic white population % is way lower than the city overall (37 vs 47%). And charlestown as part of the urban core? It’s a weird axe you seem to want to grind.

Voting closed 20

The BPS needs a top to bottom cultural change.
What they have been doing isn't working and a superintendent with no real power is useless, things will remain the same and our kids will suffer.
I hope I'm wrong but I've been here too long to be optimistic.

Voting closed 15