While Tuesday’s municipal election in Worcester was a success for City Council incumbents, it brought a major shakeup to the city’s school committee.
Former Worcester superintendent Maureen Binienda won an at-large seat on the committee, defeating longtime incumbents Tracy O’Connell Novick and Laura Clancey. Binienda's win came two years after the committee decided not to renew her contract as superintendent and hired Rachel Monárrez as her replacement.
The election was the first since Worcester created six new school committee district seats in wake of a lawsuit in 2021. Four of the seats were uncontested, and in District C, Dianna Biancheria, who previously served six terms on the school committee, beat incumbent Jermoh Kamara. In District E, Kathleen Roy edged past Nelly Medina.
Roy, Alex Guardiola and Vanessa Alvarez will join the school committee as newcomers. Sue Mailman won the second at-large seat, joining Jermaine Johnson and Molly McCullough as the three incumbents that retained their seats.
The results suggest that the committee could be more conservative once the next term begins in January. Some of the new members on the committee have previously expressed support for the return of school resource officers as well keeping the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System as a graduation requirement.
“This election is bittersweet,” Mailman said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We are losing some valuable perspectives in our city, but I am motivated to work hard over these next two years.”
Several voters said Tracy O’Connell Novick’s loss was especially surprising. O’Connell Novick is a former teacher who now works full time as a field director with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. She’s currently serving her fifth term on Worcester’s school committee.
In a statement on X after her loss, O’Connell Novick commended her school committee colleagues on the work they’ve accomplished and noted that committee members have the unique position of “answering to a constituency that cannot vote for them: the schoolchildren of the district.”
“That is no less true than it was yesterday, and it will be no less true in January than it is today,” she said. “Thank you to all those who have supported me in so many ways.”
2024-25 Worcester School Committee members after Tuesday’s election:
Mayor Joseph Petty sits on the school committee
At-large: Maureen Binienda, Sue Mailman
District A: Molly McCullough
District B: Vanessa Alvarez
District C: Dianna Biancheria
District D: Alex Guardiola
District E: Kathleen Roy
District F: Jermaine Johnson