New Haven School Board - Appointed Or Elected?

A fresh look in charter revision process.

New Haven School Board - Appointed Or Elected?
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New Haven School Board - Appointed Or Elected?

Local municipalities open their charters for revision at least once every ten years. New Haven is in the midst of a charter revision process, and the issue getting the most attention, is whether the school board should remain appointed by the mayor.

In New Haven, the mayor appoints the entire school board and is also a member. 

Speaking to the charter revision commission members of Mayor DeStefano’s administration said that it should stay that way. They said that an appointed board holds the mayor accountable for the performance of the public schools and keeps politics away from education. 

Supporters of an elected school board say it would increase transparency. Others would like to see a hybrid.

David Cicarella, president of the New Haven Federation of Teachers, says he’s often asked about the idea of an elected school board.  

"Union leaders would always say how could you be against democracy. However, at the same time, we want to make sure that that work gets done. So we’ve seen elected boards be completely dysfunctional. At the same time we don’t even want to suggest that democracy’s not a good thing."

New Haven and Hartford are the only two school boards in Connecticut with appointed members. Hartford’s board is a hybrid.

Last year Bridgeport residents voted to keep their right to elect school board members. 

For WNPR, I’m Diane Orson.