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Governance of Public Education

Although it functions as a duly elected Committee of town government, the Canton School Committee owes its existence to the Massachusetts General Laws, which decree that each public school system will be governed by a School Committee.

The School Committee possesses all powers and duties conferred upon it by state law. Certain legislative powers are also granted to the Committee by the town charter and code. The Committee alone may determine policies and practices and employ staff to implement its direction for the proper education of the children of the town of Canton.

Local governance: School committees

In Massachusetts, school committees are the elected bodies that oversee PreK-12 public schools.  School committee members contribute not only to the success of public education, but also to the success of our democracy, as they represent the will of the people regarding their public schools.*


In accordance with state law, the CPS School Committee has four major areas of responsibility:

  • approval of the annual budget;
  • approval of school district goals;
  • approval of school district policies; and,
  • hiring and supervision of the superintendent.

State and federal oversight

While the Canton School Committee is our local governing body, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) is our state governing body.

BESE approves state education policy, just as our School Committee approves district policy.

The administrative arm that manages implementation of BESE policy is the Department of Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).


Education laws and regulations in Massachusetts

As it does with all bills, the state Legislature writes and passes bills related to education. The Governor must sign those bills in order for them to become law.

Once an education bill has become law, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) then develops and approves detailed regulations related to that law. These regulations provide important guidance for educators, administrators, and School Committees. 

*There are exceptions to the local control of PreK-12 public schools in Massachusetts. One exception is charter schools, overseen by Boards of Trustees, whose members are approved by the state Commissioner of Education. Another is the City of Boston, whose School Committee is appointed by the Mayor.

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