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Should Revere Change Makeup of School Committee?

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~ Guest Commentary ~

I have always supported the idea of school committees representing a wide swath of its citizenry. Back up to the 1981 elections in Boston, it had a five member citywide school committee and it often represented at most three or four of the city’s 22 wards. In 1981, Voters of the city of Boston also had a nine member Boston City Council, all elected at-large. In that year’s election voters were asked whether they wished both bodies to remain citywide or go to district representation. The voters overwhelmingly wanted district representation.

Latest news out of the City of Revere, Mayor Brian Arrigo has proposed a charter change that would create a new School Committee with two at-large seats and six ward seats plus the mayor for a 9-member school committee. Personally, I don’t like the idea of the mayor sitting on the board as an ex-officio member but that is a debate for another time. As for present reality, I think the mayor’s proposal appears to be a good one for voters across the city’s wards.

I also understand why this reform is being pushed. Nowadays, at-large school committees have been under attack in community after community where successful lawsuits have forced school committees to include ward or district seats. As The Revere Advocate noted, in 2017, the City of Lowell fell under a consent decree after a lawsuit led the federal court to bar at-large only school committee composition. Since then, other communities have decided to include ward or district seats to avoid the possibility of federal lawsuits.

It’s always better to expand rather than dilute the voting power of any group or groups of voters. With a large and growing diversity within the City of Revere, it probably is a positive move to open up access for Revere’s entire voting base. Government after all is our business, all of our business. We are the government and the more of us invested in their communities, the stronger our communities will be.

We should be making changes in the city charter, not out of fear of a coming lawsuit but because it is just the right thing to do.

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