Mayor Taveras Vetoes Elected School Board Plan
Monday, July 30, 2012
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras has vetoed an attempt by the City Council to add a question to the November ballot asking voters if they wish to move to an elected school board, GoLocalProv has learned.
The veto came Friday, a week after the Council overwhelmingly voted in favor of moving forward with the ballot question even though City Solicitor Jeffrey Padwa advised that, because a public hearing on the matter hadn’t been held, the resolution could be considered invalid.
Narducci, the Council’s Deputy Majority Leader, has made an elected school board his top priority since last year when the Mayoral-appointed board voted to close four public schools. Narducci has accused the Taveras administration of “shaking down” board members to convince them to support closing the schools.
Before the vote took place, Narducci and Councilmen Kevin Jackson and John Igliozzi spoke in favor of allowing voters to decide whether they want an elected school board. Narducci and Jackson have long argued that an elected school committee might better protect the interests of students and neighborhoods in the city.
But critics say elected school boards too often place politics ahead of policy when it comes to decision making. Councilman Sam Zurier, who was appointed to the school board under former Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci Jr., argued against the proposal in a recent letter to his constituents.
“I oppose this change for two basic reasons,” he wrote. “First, an appointed school board encourages members to act in the best interest of children, who do not have the right to vote and whose education can be compromised by the adults who are involved in the system. Second, the appointed school board’s members make decisions based on the collective interest of all of the students, rather than to advance sectional interests at the expense of the collective. In contrast, the proponents of elections are seeking to create voting districts, which would result in a fragmented school committee with members focused on the issues of their local district and particular schools, perhaps to the detriment of the well-being of the school system as a whole.”
Now the question is whether the Council members have enough votes to override Taveras’ veto.
Narducci had nine co-sponsors for his resolution, which would give him the ten votes he needs to bypass the Mayor’s wishes. But one co-sponsor, Bryan Principe, is on vacation out of the country and would not be able to attend a meeting in time for an override.
It is unlikely Narducci would be able to convince Solomon, Yurdin, Zurier, David Salvatore or Terry Hassett to support the plan.
Providence and Central Falls are the only two communities in the state with an appointed school board.
The Taveras administration did not return a request for comment.
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