Mount Greylock School Committee Full ... For Now
Both Chris Dodig and Mark Schiek were interviewed for the position and the joint committee chose Dodig, a local attorney.
Officials from Lanesborough, Williamstown and the school appointed Dodig on Wednesday night after interviewing him and Mark Schiek for the position. Dodig fills the vacancy of Jack Hickey, who resigned last month, until the November election.
While nearly every member of the joint committee was torn by which one to choose, there may be another open seat coming soon.
School Committee member Shari Peltier said she is seriously considering resigning from the committee — meaning the group would have reconvene later this month to appoint her replacement.
"When I was recruited for it, there wasn't anybody else on the ballot. So now that there are three, I am willing to give someone else a chance," Peltier told the committee. "I am willing to stay on through November if it will make it easier to make a transition."
Both Dodig and Schiek have returned paperwork to be on the November ballot for Hickey's seat. Peltier's seat does not expire until 2014 and if the board appoints a replacement, it will be until then.
If Peltier does in fact resign, Lanesborough Selectman William Prendergast said Schiek will get his vote to be appointed that seat. After interviewing both candidates, an initial vote of 6-3 failed to determine the outcome.
The bylaws regarding the committee state that there must be a majority of the voting members — not just the members present — meaning eight of the nine officials at Wednesday's meeting had to agree. Initially, Schiek received votes from Williamstown Selectman Thomas Sheldon and School Committee members David Backus and Carrie Greene — both Williamstown representatives.
All three switched their votes in a second roll call to join the majority.
"This does not need to be a long, drawn-out process," Greene said.
The committees wanted to appoint both men — one for Hickey's seat and the other for Peltier — but that was not legally possible, according to Lanesborough Town Moderator Robert Reilly, who moderated the meeting.
What put Dodig over the edge for the seat is his experience with collective bargaining, experience working with other committees and his likelihood of winning re-election in the fall.
"I think Mr. Dodig has some particular skills in regard to negotiations that we will enter into in September," School Committee member David Langston said, adding that Schiek would be a great committee member for the long-term but Dodig is better for the immediacy.
Shari Peltier said she is considering resigning so that both Schiek and Dodig could be on the committee.
Dodig moved to the county in 2000 and is a trial lawyer. He has experience representing people in employment issues, which include teachers. He also served on the Brien Center's Executive Committee when the employees unionized and began embarking on collective bargaining, he said.
While he can be tough on the financial and administrative end, he said he has a deep understanding of the values of education with his wife being a teacher so he can balance both the wants of the employees with the administrative and budgetary needs.
"I think that education is the single most important issue for our country and our local communities," Dodig told the joint committee. "It's importance cannot be overstated."
Of Mount Greylock particularly, Dodig said he is very interested in the budgeting, creating administrative stability after multiple changes there and the new building.
"It's a terrific school and it needs to stay that way," Dodig said. "I won't be led by any lobby or faction and will act in the best interest of the students."
Schiek was also highly regarded by the committee because of his push for science and technology. Schiek is a research engineer who believes that there needs to be more academic opportunities at the school — particularly in the science field.
"I see that education and the importance in education is what can give us a competitive advantage in the world," Schiek said, adding that the job market is global now and students need the basic skills to compete for work. "The world is changing."
Schiek said he started the robotics club at Lanesborough Elementary School because of the lack of science and technology education. He hopes that joining the committee will help grow those academic sectors and help set the direction of a transitioning school.
"I think both of these gentlemen are great candidates and I am sorry that we have to choose between them," School Committee member David Backus said.
Both candidates were so highly regarded by each member that Lanesborough Selectman John Goerlach suggested flipping a coin to decide. Both candidates said that being bypassed on Wednesday would not deter them from running in the election or seeking appointment for Peltier's seat.
Mount Greylock has seen a massive exodus of administrators leaving. Peltier, if she resigns, will be the third School Committee member to resign his year. Backus replaced Abigail Reifsnyder after her January resignation and Dodig now fills Hickey's seat.
Also the school has recently said goodbye to Principal Tim Payne, who resigned to take another job and Business Manager Jennifer Coscia, who also resigned, and eliminated the dean of students post, which paved the way for the hiring of Assistant Principal Christopher Barnes.
School Committee Chairman Robert Ericson also threatened to resign earlier this year and members have also been concerned at recent turnover numbers among teaching staff.
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