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Governance of Public Education

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.

For an excellent overview of the role and responsibilities of school committees in Massachusetts, we recommend this brief slide presentation by Tracy Novick of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC).

State and federal oversight

While the Canton School Committee is our local governing body for the public schools, 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 day-to-day and yearly guidance for educators, administrators, and School Committees. 

Talking with children about the legislative process

If you would like to talk with your child about how laws are created, we recommend watching our 1976 favorite, "I'm Just a Bill," as a great starting point.

*There are exceptions to the local control of PreK-12 public schools by elected school committees in Massachusetts. One is charter schools, which are 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.