Governor Gina Raimondo has announced two businessmen to lead the State Council on Elementary and Secondary Education and the State Council on Post-Secondary Education.
To chair the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, which oversees public schools, Raimondo picked Daniel McConaghy, an executive vice president at Gilbane Building Company.
McConaghy also serves on the board of trustees for LaSalle Academy, a private, Catholic school that counts Raimondo among its lengthy list of prominent graduates.
"As a parent of three public school children, I understand firsthand the importance of a quality education from a young age," McConaghy said in a written statement. "I am committed to making an excellent public education system accessible for all Rhode Island students."
For the Council on Post-Secondary Education, Raimondo tapped William Foulkes as chair. Foulkes teaches entrepreneurship and business at the Rhode Island School of Design. Raimondo's office identifies him as a strategic planning and marketing consultant with an master's in business administration from Harvard.
"I am honored by the opportunity to chair the Council on Post-Secondary Education," Foulkes commented in the official announcement from the Governor's office. "I will work on behalf of all Rhode Islanders to empower young adults through education so they can achieve their full potential.
Board of Education Chair Barbara Cottam described both appointees as "strong advocates for Rhode Island students." Cottam herself hails from the business community. She is an executive at Citizens Financial Group.
Governor Raimondo has made education a priority, often citing it as crucial to improving the economy.
"Great schools and a pipeline of well-trained, well-educated workers are key to attracting companies to invest and create jobs here," Raimondo said in announcing the new appointments.
The State Board of Education and the two councils in charge of colleges and universities and K-12 public schools have faced heated controversies in recent years over plans to require test scores for a high school diploma, charter schools and college tuition, among other issues.
The debate over charter schools is likely to heat up at the Statehouse on Tuesday as charter school advocates rally for and against a bill that could make it much harder to open new charter schools.