Wayland is fortunate to have two extraordinary volunteers running for School Committee. Beth Butler is an accomplished attorney and mediator, a retired judge who is highly respected in the legal community. Shawn Kinney is a successful business founder and, by all accounts, a skilled manager. Both have relevant skills and are each is capable of making a meaningful contribution. They each bring a different perspective, but their views are not far apart, and in Tuesday’s election Wayland will be the winner regardless of who gets the most votes.

At the end of the day, most voters simply want the comfort of knowing that their hefty tax dollars are being spent carefully and that the quality of the schools is being preserved. Kinney’s financial skills on their face answer the desire for that comfort more readily than Butler’s legal skills. Many embrace the view that there have to be efficiencies that can be identified within our school budget that will cause our schools to be run more efficiently, that is a view that we share, and it seems to be the essence of Kinney’s platform.

Of course, every dollar saved is a boon to the taxpayer, but we must keep in mind that it’s all a matter of degree. We are kidding ourselves if we think that there’s an as-yet-unidentified pot of gold just waiting to be discovered in our school budget, by Kinney, or by his petitioned outside audit, or by anyone else.

A bigger concern is that if Kinney is elected, then the School Committee will be without a lawyer. Those who have sat on corporate or established nonprofit oversight boards know that the presence of a lawyer is invaluable for identifying potential legal problems, avoiding lawsuits, and managing outside counsel cost-effectively. When you consider that the School Committee is an all volunteer board managing a budget of over $30 million and hundreds of union and non-union employees, is responsible for the safety of over 2,600 children, sets educational policy in a state where education is so highly regulated, and is in the process of building a high school and recruiting a new Superintendent, the preferred candidate becomes obvious. It’s not a matter of which candidate is “good”. They’re both good. It’s a matter of which candidate is better able to help the Town avoid legal and financial risk. From that perspective, the preferred choice is Butler. It would take only one nasty lawsuit that could have been avoided by Butler, to cost whatever savings Kinney can identify - if not more.

Note: this post is the opinion of the WaylandeNews Editorial Board, with a 2-0 vote (one abstention)