WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — With a resounding 14-0 vote and words of appreciation from officials in both member towns, the Mount Greylock Regional School District on Monday appointed Carolyn Greene to fill a vacant seat on the School Committee.
Greene, a longtime member and former chair of the committee, was approved in a joint meeting of the select boards from Lanesborough and Williamstown and the six current members of the School Committee.
She characterized her first stint on the panel as an "intense" nine years that saw the district go from having two superintendents of three independent school districts, to having one superintendent under a shared services agreement to ultimately forming a single region — all while also moving forward with a building project to replace an aging and inefficient middle-high school.
"I'm hoping the committee and the region is at a place now where we can really move forward with having accomplished the building project and accomplished regionalization and really focus on education and the success of our students PreK through 12," Greene said.
"Every School Committee member wishes they could spend more time talking about education. Because we talk a lot about finances and contracts and various other things … that never really seem to have to do with education. But it all does. It's all critically important to how we deliver education. So to be able to focus on the work of the School Committee without these other really big projects to accomplish is something that I really look forward to. And I think I'm in a better place to do that than if I had just stayed on through.
"I'm really, really glad I had that break."
Monday's virtual meeting of the three elected bodies, moderated by Williamstown Town Moderator Adam Filson, was the second such meeting to make an interim appointment to the School Committee in the span of less than a year.
Greene will fill the seat vacated by then-Chairman Dan Caplinger in February. Monday's appointment is good until November, when Greene would have to stand for election as an incumbent to serve the remaining two years in the four-year seat Caplinger won in November 2018.
During the half-hour meeting held on the Zoom video conferencing platform, Greene was asked how likely it was that she would run to continue in the seat.
"I would be interested to see who else is thinking of running in November," Greene said. "If we have several strong candidates … for all of those seats and people want to run for those seats, I certainly don't feel the need to compete for them. But I'm also happy to continue serving."
Lanesborough Select Board member Gordon Hubbard asked Greene what she saw as the biggest concerns for the School Committee moving forward.
She said the first thing on everyone's list at the moment seems to be the transition to remote learning and how best to serve the district's students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I think there also are some concerns about district leadership that I've heard," Greene said. "A lot of people have approached me and talked to me about that. That's something that I'm hoping the School Committee will be addressing in the coming months."
She also mentioned the importance of closing out the Mount Greylock building project, a topic that was raised by Williamstown Select Board Chairman Jeffrey Thomas.
"There were some problems with the project, as I'm sure you were aware," Thomas said. "We weren't able to open the school on time. It took quite a while for the auditorium to be able to use. There have been some electrical issues, some ventilation issues, sewer issues. And I want to ask how you feel about that. Do you feel we were well served by the construction team and the project manager there."
Greene said she has been out of the loop on the building project since leaving the School Committee at the end of her term in 2018. And she noted that the School Committee and School Building Committee knew delays were a possibility given the aggressive timetable set for the addition/renovation project.
"I'm not going to be able to address how well we were served by each of the various players," Greene said.
"If there are electrical issues, my hope would be we address those like any other issues in any building project. I don't know why those happened or who was responsible. … My assumption is those who are in the loop are holding people accountable who need to be held accountable and making the necessary repairs."
Williamstown Select Board member Hugh Daley, who serves on the School Building Committee, followed up on that comment.
"The ultimate thing to remember with the building project is we either want to get the value that we paid for from the consultants we hired or get the money back," Daley said. "As long as you're committed to — and I believe you are — holding to account those responsible for … issues with the project, I wholeheartedly support your appointment."
In general, support and gratitude were the theme of the night as Greene was welcomed back to serve the district.
"I think Carrie is one of the most thoughtful, intelligent and experienced people in this field," Williamstown Select Board member Andrew Hogeland said, forgoing his opportunity to ask a question of the candidate. "So I'm ready to vote as soon as you are."
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Williamstown Preparing Town Meeting Warrant for August
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Select Board on Monday began going over the revised annual town meeting warrant for the rescheduled gathering on Aug. 18.
Much of the agenda looks as it did when plans for a May meeting were put on hold at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic this winter.
But Town Manager Jason Hoch explained that there will be adjustments to the fiscal 2021 spending plan.
"We have three levers to deal with in terms of budget right now," Hoch said. "The first is reducing the proposed budget in some areas. In some cases, there are areas where we can pull back or delay [spending]. We have better information now than we had back in January.
The committee decided to post a job opening for a two- to three-year appointment with a deadline of July 24 or 27 for applications and a hope of having a new superintendent in place in early August.
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In an email sent to the Lanesborough-Williamstown district's community on Saturday afternoon, Grady confirmed what had been implied by an agenda item posted for a special School Committee meeting on Monday morning: She is leaving the district after 10 years as an administrator.
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