From the call to order to adjournment, that’s how long it took Monday night, March 14, for the Worcester School Committee to name Maureen F. Binienda the next superintendent of schools.
The vote brings to a conclusion a process that started when Melinda J. Boone announced in October that she was leaving to accept the district school boss job in Norfolk, Virginia.
As Mayor Joseph M. Petty and the six other members of the School Committee announced their selections Monday night, only John L. “Jack” Foley did not advocate for Binienda, principal of South High Community School.
Foley said he believed that of the four finalists only interim Superintendent Marco C. Rodrigues, formerly the district’s chief academic officer, had he the requisite experience to be named superintendent.
With a 6-1 vote, the choice of Binienda was affirmed.
Binienda and Rodrigues emerged as the favorites for the position in October when, by a 4-3 vote, the School Committee chose Rodrigues to lead the schools through July 1.
In that vote, Petty joined Foley and former committee members Tracy A. O’Connell Novick and Hilda Ramirez in support of Rodrigues.
At the time, we wrote: “[W]e believe the choices of Rodrigues and Binienda represent two valid views of the current state of the Worcester Public Schools.
“A vote for Rodrigues represented a vote for continuity, as Petty suggested. The next superintendent will set the direction of the Worcester Public Schools. What is needed between Nov. 30 and then is someone who can effectively manage the district and minimize disruption. The subtext of this view is that the Boone administration is performing well.
“A vote for Binienda represented a vote for an ‘independent set of eyes,’ in the words of [John F.] Monfredo. Moreover, in Binienda, a veteran of the Worcester Public Schools who is held in nearly universal high regard, there exists an opportunity to restore public confidence in a district beset by high-profile problems. The subtext of this view is that the Boone administration is out of touch with two key constituencies: teachers and students.”
Momentum shifted in Binienda’s direction in November when Donna Colorio and Molly O. McCullough were elected to the committee, replacing O’Connell Novick and Ramirez.
In late January, the School Committee voted to conduct an internal search, eschewing a national search. As we wrote on Oct. 20, “The clear and unambiguous support of two internal candidates leads us to a simple question about holding a nationwide search: Why?”
The opinions of the state and direction of Worcester Public Schools have become more divergent over the past year. In this regard, we reaffirm our opinion that a local search was the best method to help restore public confidence in Worcester Public Schools, which we believe was lacking and without which we believe no substantial progress can be made.
Moreover, we believe that in Binienda the School Committee has chosen the person uniquely able and qualified to unite the community of stakeholders, teachers, parents, civic and political leaders, residents and, most of all, the students.
In short, Binienda is the right person to lead Worcester Public Schools at this time.
As is customary immediately after a split vote for superintendent, the School Committee voted again to make the official vote unanimous. The move is meant as a clear, unmistakable show of support for the new superintendent.
We can think of no better message for the residents of Worcester. Now is the time to come together and support Binienda.