The first day for the new Boston Public Schools' Superintendent, Mary Skipper, started on Monday, and the school system and Mayor Michelle Wu couldn’t be more thrilled. To kick off her first day on the job, Skipper greeted elementary students at Trotter Elementary School in Roxbury as they walked into the building. Mayor Wu and the Boston Teachers Union President, Jessica Tang, were also present with Superintendent Skipper at Trotter Elementary.
Skipper is now the sixth person to take on the role of superintendent for Boston schools in the last decade. Before taking on the role, Skipper was a former teacher at BPS, network superintendent for BPS, and a leader for Somerville Public Schools. During her career as a network superintendent, Skipper oversaw 34 high schools all around Boston. Approximately 19,500 kids were under her supervision, and she made an impressive statement before moving to Somerville.
Drop-out rates for Boston high schools had decreased from 7.9 percent to an impressive 4.5 percent during Skipper’s position as network superintendent. At the same time, graduation rates increased throughout the city, from 65.9 percent to 70.7 percent. These statistics are only some of the many qualifications that Skipper has for the new superintendent position.
Skipper got right to work in preparing for her new plans and strategies for the 2022-2023 academic year. Mayor Wu told CBS News, “It doesn’t necessarily feel like this is her first day because we’ve already been on the phone early in the morning, late at night, troubleshooting issues, mapping out what will come next.” As part of her contract, Skipper agreed to four years to serve as superintendent, as well as ensuring the school district meets all deadlines and improvement projects set by the state.
The vote to elect Skipper as the new superintendent of BPS was close. She was chosen in a 4-3 vote in June 2022, over the BPS regional superintendent, Tommy Welch. The first day of school for BPS was Sept. 8, but her first day at her new job was delayed so that she could smoothly transition from Somerville back to Boston. In a statement made to WBZ, Skipper said she felt confident in her ability to transition back to the BPS system after her time in Somerville.
As the school year is officially underway, one of Skipper’s main focuses for the year is proper, on-time transportation to and from school for students. Due to the previous Orange Line shutdown and the new Orange Line delays, school transportation has been disrupted for thousands of students. As a result, route training for school bus drivers has been initiated to provide students with on-time school bus arrivals.
According to WBUR, Skipper also wants to develop “healthy, student-centered schools.” These include “prioritizing and acceleration of academic performance,” as well as “building back and improving access to social and emotional learning for our students.” While she hasn’t released any detailed plans for improving BPS, her record of improvement in Somerville’s district should be expected here in Boston.
Wu has also made a statement to WBUR that she feels confident about the future of BPS and thanked the leadership of Skipper, stating: “We are going to hit all of our hurdles and benchmarks as much as possible. Not because we need to be in compliance, but because our students deserve every resource and every opportunity.”