Watertown School Committee member Candace Miller announced this week she will be leaving town and the School Committee, too, this summer.
Miller will leave less than two years into her four year term, so an opening will be left on the School Committee. Because of the timing, Town Clerk John Flynn said the Watertown Town Charter offers are a couple of options for filling the seat.
The Town Charter reads “If a vacancy shall occur on the school committee during the first 24 months of the term for which the school committee member is are elected, the vacancy shall be filled by a held forthwith and no earlier than 64 days from the day the election is called.”
The charter gives the Town Council the option of voting to have he vacancy filled by appointment by the remaining members of the School Committee. To move ahead with this option, six Councilors would need to vote for the option.
The options would be reversed if the vacancy came in the second 24 months of the term, with the default option being the School Committee filling the vacancy.
In a letter announcing her decision Miller said the decision was a bittersweet one. Read the letter below:
Dear friends and community,
As a family, we have made a difficult decision to leave Watertown. My husband and I have lived here for 17 years, which is longer than we have lived anywhere else in the world. For me, despite a different birthplace, Watertown is my “hometown”. It is a difficult and bittersweet decision to move, however, as a family, we believe it is the right decision for us at this time.
Unfortunately, our decision has implications for my role as an elected School Committee member in Watertown. While I wish I could continue to serve, I will not be able to remain a member of the School Committee. Town Council President Mark Sideris has worked with the town attorneys and confirmed that a non-resident cannot serve on an elected committee. This means that my seat will open up and need to be filled.
Many Watertown residents know that I have been deeply involved with Watertown Public Schools for many years. I care deeply about our system, students, families, teachers, staff, and administrators. We have made incredible progress on many fronts during the 2016/2017 school year. Watertown must remain on this path and continue to gain momentum.
Each of the great school districts across the Commonwealth has had administrators, teachers and staff, School Committees, and community members who pushed hard for excellence and contributed the requisite time and energy needed to achieve high quality. Watertown’s students deserve the very best and our schools and community must work hard, smartly, and swiftly to move to greatness. This means Watertown’s adults must [continue to] step up and make new and greater commitments to WPS.
Moving into the 2017 election, I urge you to run for SC and/or support strong candidates. WPS deserves candidates who have a fire in their belly to improve public education for ALL students. I believe the functionality of the SC has improved in this past year, but there is still a long way to go. It is important to acknowledge that while public education is constantly evolving, the Watertown School Committee has lacked a strong culture of learning, ongoing professional development on the critical issues of public education, and candid self-assessment. This has been a serious impediment to progress. Service in public education requires continuous learning, patience, fortitude, and reflection. It also requires forgiving old grievances, admitting failures, acknowledging challenges, and pushing forward every day, guided by the needs of ALL students. It means asking for help, finding the humor, and focusing on children. My wish for Watertown is a full committee of members willing to set ego aside, eager to learn, ready to pursue professional development, and committed to teamwork in service of all ALL students. A dear colleague has always reminded me “While adults talk, children grow”. Time is of the essence for WPS.
I will leave the School Committee late in the summer with a heavy heart and a promise to help SC candidates in their efforts. For me, service has been a true privilege and extremely rewarding. I am grateful for this opportunity and I thank you for your trust in me. I also remain deeply apologetic that I will not be able to serve the full term.
Dr. Candace Miller