Council should get a say on the mayor’s school board choices

THE GLOBE’S Sept. 12 editorial “School-board appointments shouldn’t require council input,” which opposes Boston City Council confirmation of mayoral appointments to the Boston School Committee, is ill conceived. Parents, residents, and taxpayers alike want greater input into who is selected to serve on the committee.

The original referendum of 1989 that asked voters for a yes vote on appointing our School Committee included a provision that all appointments would be “confirmed by the Boston City Council.” I supported that referendum.

State law requires a home rule petition to be passed by the state government to change the charter of Boston. Confirmation of School Committee members was removed in that process, even though the voters approved City Council confirmation in the original referendum.


As the chair of economic development and planning on the council, I routinely hold hearings and move confirmations to the entire council on vital mayoral appointments, such as to the Boston Redevelopment Authority Board, Landmarks Commission, and Zoning Board of Appeals. Other confirmations are required by law for mayoral appointments by the City Council. Confirmation of appointments does not give the council the ability to directly influence decisions. It gives the council the ability to vet appointees and to engage with committee members on behalf of residents.

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The petition I offered aligns with the original referendum. This law change would build on the existing referendum’s intent and would allow for greater input on who should serve on the Boston School Committee. This is not council interference; it is about access and opportunity for those who do not agree with the mayor’s appointments.

Bill Linehan

South Boston