Education Staff Changes Aplenty for New Boston Mayor

Boston’s new mayor, Martin J. “Marty” Walsh, is bidding adieu to his top education adviser, who resigned last Friday after serving for less than four months.

Andrew Ryan of the Boston Globe reports that George S. Perry was a long-time education consultant from Scituate, Mass. and was one of the top-paid advisers to the mayor.

Perry did not issue a statement but the Walsh administration said he was returning to his education consulting firm to work with his wife.

Perry isn’t the only education sector city employee on his way out the door. His is not the only resignation in recent weeks.

The public school chief financial officer, the deputy chief academic officer, and the school transportation director will all be departing, as well.

There appear to be no scandals precipitating the resignations.  Peter Ubertaccio, professor of political science at Easton’s Stonehill College explains the changes:

“He’s a new mayor trying to find his team and his management style,” Ubertaccio said. “It is ultimately better to part with people than to cling to someone out of a false sense of loyalty or a fear of how it may be perceived.”

Walsh took office on January 6 of this year. After 17 years in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, the 47-year-old Democrat  won the mayoral election last November with 51.6% of the popular vote.

The Associated Press wrote on May 3 that Mayor Martin Walsh was aiming to double the number of 4 year-olds in early education programs in the next four years.  He wants his advisers to come up with a plan to make this happen, and he wants the plan by November.

There are approximately 6,000 children in this age group in  Boston at this time, and 25%do not have access to any pre-kindergarten services.  These numbers are expected to grow in the next few years.

Walsh says that research shows that children who are able to participate in a pre-kindergarten program led by trained teachers will  have better academic performance in the the future.  Even more significant, pre-kindergarten reduces the achievement gap for low-income children by grade three.

Boston’s school district has had more than a few rough press clippings so far in 2014 including a survey of Boston public school cafeterias that contained shocking admissions.

A study, which was sponsored by the Boston School Department and completed last month, discovered that food service had lost more than $21 million in eight years,. This comes as a shock since Boston implemented a plan to take control of expenditures and increase profit.

The issues with management are so bad that the food program does not even have a system to let cafeteria workers know if a student has food allergies, which puts the students in danger, says Vaznis.  Also, the food services often formulate menus without the consultation of individual cafeteria managers which feature food that the cafeteria does not have, which puts them into a state of confusion.

In addition, the district has shut down recently-acquired salad bars in schools, part of Michelle Obama’s plan to combat childhood obesity, without telling anyone until it was brought to light, writes Nick Green, also of Education News.
The salad bars themselves were donated to the Boston schools and cost about $2,600 per bar. They have a life expectancy of 10 years. It has been revealed that campuses such as Curley K-8 in Jamaica Plain not only stopped stocking the salad bar last September, but also reinstated the selling of snacks such as cookies and chips.