(This story was updated March 20 at 5:30 p.m.)When the State Board of Education meets on Tuesday it will have two new members. Gov. Phil Scott has appointed the town manager from Manchester and a former senator from the Upper Valley to six-year terms.
John O’Keefe, of Manchester, and former Sen. John Carroll will replace outgoing Chair Stephan Morse and Vice Chair Sean-Marie Oller, the governor’s office confirmed Monday.
“Both appointees have a demonstrated commitment to public service and impressive policy knowledge,” Scott said. He added that their understanding of education is critical to realizing his vision of a system serving young Vermonters from infancy and to career readiness that will attract working families to the state.
The two come onto the 11-member board in the midst of an imbroglio over draft rules that would change the way private schools are approved to accept publicly funded students. The board is also drilling deeper into Act 46, considering more complicated merger proposals and eventually drawing a new school districts map.
Carroll, a former Republican Windsor County senator from Norwich, has some history navigating political waters. His last stint in the Legislature was the 1993-1994 session. He lost a bid to unseat then-U.S. Rep. Bernie Sanders in 1994. In his retirement, Carroll volunteers with local nongovernmental organizations. He has also spent time on the Norwich School Board and chaired the Dresden Interstate School Board.
He comes from a long line of educators who have worked in public and private schools. “These experiences have given me lifelong interest in education,” he said.
O’Keefe, town manager in Manchester since 2007, also has political experience. He was head of legislative affairs for then-Gov. Mitt Romney, of Massachusetts, before moving to Vermont.
O’Keefe said he is looking forward to joining the board and that he would focus on innovation and “enhancing strong traditions of quality and school choice.”