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Lanesborough resident Michelle Johnson tendered her resignation Thursday to the committee, effective Friday.

Lanesborough's Johnson Departs Mount Greylock School Committee

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — For the fourth time in two years, a member of the seven-person Mount Greylock Regional School Committee has resigned mid-term.
 
Lanesborough resident Michelle Johnson tendered her resignation Thursday to the committee, effective Friday.
 
Johnson's letter of resignation said it comes with "great sadness," and she appeared to tear up while reading the letter during Thursday's virtual meeting. Her letter praised her colleagues on the committee for their professionalism and thoughtfulness.
 
It did not specify a reason for her resignation beyond "personal reasons."
 
"I urge the committee to continue on the path we have taken this year," Johnson wrote. "I hope anyone planning to take my seat will do so with this in mind. Our committee has proven that we can ask tough questions and make difficult decisions while being respectful and professional, even if we don't all necessarily agree."
 
The district Friday posted an application to fill 18 months of the remainder of Johnson's term.
 
Any adult resident of the town of Lanesborough is eligible for the post. Per the regional agreement between Lanesborough and Williamstown, the School Committee has 30 days from the date of the resignation to convene a joint meeting of the remaining School Committee members and the Select Boards from each town to choose an applicant to fill the vacant seat.
 
Chair Christina Conry on Thursday said completed applications would be due on April 23, and she anticipated the joint meeting of the three bodies to be held either the last week of April or the first week of May.
 
Per the regional agreement, Lanesborough Town Moderator Chris Dodig will chair the joint meeting and would represent the tie-breaking vote in the even the 14 people eligible to participate are split on the question of which candidate to choose.
 
Johnson joins a list of School Committee members to step aside that started with then-Chair Joe Bergeron, who left in June 2019 to move with his family out of state. He since has returned to Williamstown and now is the district's business administrator.
 
In February 2020, Dan Caplinger, who replaced Bergeron as chair, resigned his position. He currently serves on the town Finance Committee in Williamstown.
 
Lanesborough resident Regina DiLego resigned her seat in October 2020, too late to get nominees on the ballot for November's biennial election. The three-body meeting at that time chose Curtis Elfenbein to serve until the next biennial election in November 2022, which also is when the seat vacated by Johnson will be on the ballot.
 
Since School Committee members are elected by members of both towns, the regional agreement stipulates that all district elections coincide with biennial federal election dates, when voters in both towns go to the polls. That sets the committee apart from town elected officials; town elections in each member town happen in the spring but not necessarily on the same date.
 
With Johnson departing and Elfenbein holding the seat won by DiLego in November 2018, two of the three Lanesborough-resident seats will be filled by people not elected by the district's constituents until November 2022.
 
Johnson was elected in 2020 in her second try for the office. She was a runner-up in 2018, when voters in the two towns elected all seven members in the first election under the then-recently expanded region.
 
On Thursday, her colleagues praised her for her service to the district, both as an elected member of the committee and as a frequent participant from the floor at meetings before she was elected.
 
"Your unique ability of sharing your point of views as a teacher and a special education teacher has been eye-opening, heartfelt and very much appreciated," Conry said.
 
Johnson is a teacher at Morris Elementary School in Lenox.
 
"I am going to sincerely miss you on this committee," said Jose Constantine, who was elected in 2020 alongside Johnson. "Thank you so much for what you've given your community and will continue to give to all of us.
 
"One of the things I've appreciated, of the many things I've appreciated, is you hold us accountable and expect us to hold each other accountable. Continue to do that. Don't be a stranger. Keep us honest and true."
 
Johnson was quick to reply.
 
"I'm not sure it's in my DNA not to do that," she said. "So no problem."

Tags: MGRSD,   resignation,   

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Williamstown Names Interim Police Chief; Process Sparks Committee Member's Resignation

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The interim town manager Monday announced that Lt. Mike Ziemba will serve as the town's interim police chief.
 
Ziemba, who has been serving as acting chief since the departure of Kyle Johnson in December, was vetted by a committee of concerned citizens created by the Select Board to advise the town manager, who has hiring authority under the town's charter.
 
That committee's role was called into question on Monday when one of the residents appointed to serve announced on Facebook that she was resigning over concerns with the process that led to Ziemba's appointment.
 
While making it clear that she had no objection to Ziemba's elevation to the position, Aruna D'Souza charged that Blanchard "overruled" the advisory committee by not appointing its preferred candidate.
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