AP NEWS

Craven Tapped to Replace Sagan As Education Board Chair

March 26, 2019

By Katie Lannan

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

BOSTON -- Amid an effort to reform the state’s school funding system, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is getting a new leader.

Chairman Paul Sagan, appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker in 2015, announced to his colleagues Tuesday morning in Malden that it was his last meeting and he was stepping down at the end of his four-year term.

Baker subsequently nominated Katherine Craven, who has served on the 11-member board since 2014, as the new chair, and tapped Matthew Hills to take the newly vacant seat. A former chair of the Newton School Committee, Hills is a managing director at LLM Capital Partners in Boston.

“Paul is a tough act to follow, so sorry for that, Katherine. I wish we could have arranged for someone more incompetent to preceed you,” Education Secretary James Peyser quipped during the meeting. “But Katherine is indeed a worthy successor. She has deep experience in the field.”

A nominee of former Gov. Deval Patrick, Craven served on the Better Government Committee as part of Baker’s transition team after his 2014 election. She is the chief administrative and financial officer at Babson College in Wellesley, and was the founding executive director and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

Craven has also served as assistant vice president for capital finance for the University of Massachusetts and executive director of the UMass Building Authority.

Peyser said Craven will be a “tremendous resource and asset for all of us,” in part because of her experience at the “intersection between education, policy and politics.”

Craven said she also brings to the board the perspective of a parent of five kids, including one who is not yet school-aged, a freshman in college, and in the middle, “a little guy who has Down syndrome and autism.”

“I have almost every single kind of way of coming into a public school system, and we’re lucky that we have a great, high-quality, public school system,” she said.

The change on the board comes as lawmakers are mulling different proposals that would infuse new funding into school districts over the course of multiple years, including one offered by Baker.

Sagan, in his farewell remarks, ticked off a list of accomplishments over the course of his term -- among them, revamping the MCAS assessment system, selecting a new education commissioner after the death of Mitchell Chester, and updating curriculum frameworks for math, science, engineering, social sciences and history -- and told board members their work was not done.

He said achievement gaps have not been closed and “demand more attention, better thinking, and not to mention more resources, some of which I remain hopeful the Legislature’s going to approve this year, but that’s not a one-time problem, either.”

A managing director at General Catalyst, Sagan said he would “try to remain active in public education issues to make schools better.”