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Six Candidates Emerge for Vacant Mount Greylock School Committee Seat

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock School Committee and select boards from Williamstown and Lanesborough will have at least six candidates to choose from to fill a vacant seat on the School Committee.
 
A special joint meeting of all three elected bodies Monday at 5:30 p.m. at the middle-high school has a single agenda item: to determine a replacement for Joe Bergeron, who announced his resignation from the panel last month.
 
This week, members of the School Committee and two select boards received applications and supporting information provided by the candidates who declared their intention prior to the meeting.
 
Bergeron occupied one of four Williamstown seats on the seven-person School Committee. Per the regional agreement binding Williamstown and Lanesborough, vacancies that arise between biennial elections are filled by a joint vote of the remaining committee members and the two select boards at a meeting moderated by the moderator of the town where the vacancy arises.
 
That means the successful candidate will need as many as eight votes from the 14 officials eligible to participate in Monday's meeting: six School Committee members, five Williamstown Select Board members and three Lanesborough Select Board members.
 
In the event of a tie, it will be broken by Williamstown Moderator Adam Filson, who otherwise will not have a vote in the process.
 
The field of candidates for Bergeron's seat includes three who identify themselves as lifelong Williamstown residents and two former school committee members in the district.
 
Jamie Art, Chris Kapiloff and and Whit Montgomery-Nasif each note that they are graduates of Mount Greylock.
 
Kapiloff served on the Mount Greylock School Committee from 2004-08, prior to the region's full regionalization as a PreK-12 district. He also taught history at Mount Greylock from 2001-03 and served on Williamstown's Planning Board.
 
John Skavlem also served the district's pupils prior to regionalization. He was a member of the former Williamstown Elementary School Committee from 2011-17. In that capacity, he served as a member of the Superintendency Union 71 committee, which appointed the superintendent who directed WES, Mount Greylock and Lanesborough Elementary in a shared services agreement.
 
Skavlem currently serves as an appointed member to Mount Greylock's ad hoc Phase 2 Capital Gift Subcommittee.
 
The other two declared candidates are Micah J. Manary and Catherine McKeen.
 
Manary notes that while he is not a native, his wife is a graduate of Williamstown Elementary and Mount Greylock. Both Manary and his wife are teachers -- he at Buxton School and she at Mount Greylock.
 
He currently serves as a trustee of Williamstown's David and Joyce Milne Public Library.
 
"I understand the conflict of interest laws in Massachusetts from my library board election and believe I would be able to serve, though if the fact that I would have to exclude myself from teacher salary negotiations would be too much of a hinderence then please let me know," Manary wrote in his application after noting his wife's position at the middle-high school.
 
Each of the candidates has children who have attended or are currently attending schools in the Mount Greylock district.
 
McKeen, who writes that her family moved to Williamstown in 2007, has a daughter who recently graduated from Mount Greylock and another going into 10th grade. McKeen brings a wealth of experience in education, including at MCLA, Southern Vermont College and as a consultant to the Berkshire County Education Task Force.
 
Art, who told the committees that he has a professional commitment that will keep him out of town on Monday, has never served on an elected school committee but has served on the WES Endowment Fund advisory board and Williamstown's 2015 Economic Development Committee, which determined, among other things, that "high student to teacher ratio and high graduation rates at Mount Greylock Regional School are positive economic drivers."
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Williamstown's Racial Equity Committee Discusses Core Principles

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity Committee on Monday discussed a statement of principles to guide the group's work as it seeks to work for justice in the college town of 7,700.
 
Among those principles: a recognition of the current injustice.
 
"We are beginning from the assumption that, like every other community in the U.S., our town and its residents are impacted by racism," the fourth paragraph of a seven-paragraph draft document reads. "Our work is to discover if our town's institutions and rules (policies, laws and regulations) deliberately or inadvertently encode such inequalities. Our goal is not to assess blame, but to seek accountability where appropriate and change where needed."
 
Committee members Aruna D'Souza and Kerri Nicoll developed the draft. And although there was no formal vote to adopt the language on Monday, there appeared to be general agreement that the pair had captured the spirit of the committee.
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