New Haven Voters to Decide Makeup of School Board

Nov 5, 2013

Toni Harp and Justin Elicker during a mayoral debate this campaign season.
Credit Melissa Bailey / New Haven Independent

New Haven residents will decide today who will be the city’s next mayor. State Senator Toni Harp is facing Alderman Justin Elicker. The winner will replace the retiring Mayor John DeStefano, who served 20 years in office.

New Haven voters will also decide how much control the next mayor will have over the school board. The city's seven member school board is entirely appointed by the mayor, who its eighth member. Proponents of appointed school boards say they hold the mayor accountable for the performance of the public schools and keep politics away from education.

But most school boards in Connecticut are elected. Supporters of elected boards say they increase transparency and public involvement in local education.

Today’s ballot in New Haven includes a referendum question. Voters have the chance to decide whether the city’s school board should move to a hybrid model with seven members, including the Mayor, four appointed members and two elected members. There would also be two non-voting student members.

New Haven and Hartford are the only two school boards in Connecticut with appointed members. Hartford’s board is a hybrid.

Last year, Bridgeport residents voted to keep their right to elect school board members.