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Superintendent Lam of Chelsea Resigns To Run for Mayor of Boston

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Diana Lam, the first superintendent of the Chelsea, Mass., schools under Boston University's management of the troubled district, has resigned to run for mayor of Boston.

Peter R. Greer, dean of the university's school of education, has been named interim superintendent as of July 1, when Ms. Lam's resignation becomes effective.

Serving as superintendent "has been the most challenging and rewarding professional experience of my life," Ms. Lam wrote in her resignation letter this month.

Ms. Lam's campaign manager, Meg Campbell, said that the superintendent's contract with the school system was renewable annually and that she chose not to renew.

As a Boston resident, "[Ms. Lam] felt her first obligation was to the city of Boston," Ms. Campbell said. For someone who wants to be an "education mayor," the aide added, "it's just a wider classroom."

John R. Silber, president of Boston University, praised Ms. Lam for having "done a good job in the two years she's been there."

"I think Ms. Lam has to decide what she's most interested in doing,'' he said in an interview. "Obviously, we would not have appointed her to that position if we thought she was not interested in administering the Chelsea schools for a period of at least five years."

The university's 10-year contract to run the district began in September 1989. Ms. Lam has been lauded for her contributions to improving the schools, and in her resignation letter cited increases in basic skills and sat scores.

Mr. Greer, a former deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Education Department, will be on a paid leave of absence from the university.

"I am excited," Mr.Greer added. "I was a superintendent before. I just hope I haven't lost it."

Mr. Greer "will provide even more vigorous leadership as superintendent than Ms. Lam has," Mr. Silber said. "I think he will probably be the superintendent for the next year or two, until we stabilize the situation."

The job "requires idealism and dedication," Mr. Silber said. "That superintendency was the best job that Diana Lam ever had, but it's not the best job that Peter Greer ever had. He's doing his duty."

Budget woes pose one challenge. City officials have asked the district's management to cut $4.3 million from the $15.9-million budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

If the cuts are made, the school budget will be "a couple of million short of where we were last year," Mr. Greer said.

In a speech last week, Mr. Silber said that the university's partnership with Chelsea "is perhaps the most important step ever taken by Boston University, and we are going to meet that commitment."

But he warned that, "as a matter of moral and educational principle," the university cannot run the schools if the budget is cut by $4.3 million.

"We cannot fulfill our commitment, unless Chelsea itself shows an equal commitment," he said. "The cuts now being demanded raise grave doubts about this."

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