School Committee picks new leadership

The Newton School Committee has chosen its leadership for the new year, and Tamika Olszewski is out as chair.

The committee—now with two new members-elect, Amy Davenport from Ward 7 (who’s replacing Shields) and Barry Greenstein from Ward 8—voted to appoint Ward 2 member Chris Brezski as chair and Emily Prenner as vice chair, effective Jan. 1. Vice chair Kathleen Shields didn’t run for reelection.

“It is my profound hope that our new leadership team continues to ensure that we are a high-functioning collaborative team inviting the thoughtful exchange of ideas and a deep respect for our staff, our students and our community,” Olszewski said.

The committee cast its vote in a pre-meeting caucus meeting off-camera, so there’s no discussion to report. The vote comes after several months of a heated, continually escalating contract battle that is now under state mediation.

Later, during the general School Committee meeting after Superintendent Anna Nolin presented her plan for the district, Shields took a moment to speak about the negotiations.

“And it is critically important that when negotiating a contract we do not put ourselves in a place where we are going to be unable to make any of those innovations that Dr. Nolin has outlined for us,” Shields said.

Shields mentioned Andover, a town in which teachers went on strike for several days during a contentious contract battle. Andover teachers have since returned to work.

The next School Committee meeting is slated for Dec. 4.