Somewhere in the middle of our interview, Lou Segal’s 8-year-old golden retriever, Tracey, disappeared. After a frantic search that revealed Tracey had walked into the restaurant next door, the school board candidate reflected, “You asked me how much I actually want to [serve on the board]? It wouldn’t be worth losing Tracey.”
Segal is the classic issue candidate. The animated semi-retired Boston native who runs his own historic preservation real estate financing consultancy is fired up about the apathy he sees in the public schools. He wants reforms such as merit pay, more quantitative teacher evaluations, and the abolishment of tenure. Keeping the best teachers in the classroom, he said, means doing away with seniority. An independent with Libertarian leanings who harbors little hope of winning, Segal says he is using his campaign to educate voters, but, if he actually won, he would serve proudly.
When it is pointed out to Segal that many of his concerns can only truly be addressed at the state or national level, he concedes partially but says there is still plenty of wiggle room within the district’s collective-bargaining agreement. And he believes that Superintendent David Cash is moving the district in the right direction. That means the schools chief will need a board that can back him on the tough decisions, Segal reasons.
Cash, however, did not support Segal’s vocal opposition to the two parcel-tax measures that barely failed to garner the two-thirds vote needed for passage. Segal said he felt it was disingenuous to put them on the June ballot where voters would not have to weigh them against the governor’s tax measure. And he doesn’t think seniors should be exempt. But he really feels like the measures — which will return with some revisions in November — should be held hostage until reforms are instituted. “I want to send a fundamental message [to the district],” he said. “You have to do some heavy lifting, too.”