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Joshua Vallieres being sworn in as city clerk in July 2022. The post has cost him his seat on the School Committee.

School Committee Member Vallieres Resigns in North Adams

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Committee is down one member as Joshua Vallieres has resigned effective immediately.
The School Committee accepted his resignation on Tuesday with regrets, with member Tara Jacobs voting no "just because I'll miss him."
"Just my thanks to Josh for his service, and he was a delight to serve with, and I'll miss him, and I wish him well. And, so it's a bittersweet moment," she said.
In his brief resignation letter dated Dec. 20, 2022, Vallieres said he could no longer fulfill his duties on the committee.
"Unfortunately, I must resign from my position as a school committee member. I am very grateful for the committee's hard work and the votes of confidence from the North Adams public," he wrote.
Mayor Jennifer Macksey, chair of the committee, said Vallieres' departure was based on a finding in the charter that an elected member could not also be paid by the city. 
Vallieres was appointed as the city clerk in July 2022 and had been elected to the committee in November 2021 to complete the final two years of a four-year term. 
Macksey said she had first asked a former city clerk to look into the ethics of Vallieres running an election in which he might be a candidate. Further review o the ordinances found the prohibition on serving on the School Committee.
"No member of the school committee, except the mayor, shall, while a member thereof, hold any other office or position the salary or compensation for which is payable out of the city treasury," the ordinance reads
"That's very sad because Mr. Vallieres had a lot to contribute to our team," the mayor said. 
She wanted to have someone ready to appoint by the City Council's Jan. 24 meeting but there was some debate over how the post will be filled until the next election. 
The mayor said an ordinance allows for her to make the appointment 
"Under our ordinance, the mayor is able to appoint someone to fill Josh's term and have it confirmed by the City Council," she said. "I have a few people in mind, but I would love the input of the School Committee if you know of anyone who is interested."
Committee members, however, said that was not how it had been done in the past. Rather, letters of interest had been solicited, applicants allowed to speak and a joint vote taken by the School Committee and City Council. 
This occurred when Emily Daunis was elected to a vacancy in 2020.
Member David Sookey III, who had been one of the applicants in 2020, said he remembered submitting a letter to the mayor and having time to speak at the joint meeting.
"Then am I right by saying that the committee then voted at that point to fill versus having one person to elect that person?" he asked.
Nancy Rauscher, business administrator, said there were procedures in Superintendent Barbara Malkas' office to "facilitate the process when somebody is going to be newly appointed to the School Committee. So that's something that needs to be referenced."
She thought the way the last vacancy was filled — for Robert Moulton Jr. — had been "more elaborate" because he also had served on the City Council. 
Jacobs and member Karen Bond also recalled the selection as being more of a group effort. Members did not feel there would not be enough time for applicants to submit letters of interest and schedule a vote by Jan. 24.
"I am certainly open to what everyone has said here about a letter of interest, and I'm just trying to move this along because I would like to have a full committee in February," the mayor said. "So if I'm hearing from the committee that we want to hit pause and maybe not move it, I'm truly OK with that, and entertain letters of interest."
She said she would "dig a little bit more" into the ordinance and procedure and get back to the committee on Wednesday. 
The ordinance states "the city council and the remaining members of the school committee shall meet in joint convention and elect a suitable person to fill the vacancy" but does not outline any other procedure. 
In other business, the committee approved a tuition agreement with Readsboro (Vt.) Central School to educate its Grades 7 and 8 in addition to Grades 9-12. The Vermont school board voted to send their middle schoolers to Drury High School last year. The tuition for this school year is $13,443 per student plus 100 percent of the costs of special education. 
The committee heard a presentation on "Profiles of Berkshire County graduate" program and learned that the application to provide for early college curriculum at Drury High had been submitted last month.
• Malkas updated the committee on COVID-19, saying it was one of a triad the school system was dealing with including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). She anticipated the number of absences to spike in the next week or so before settling down as they did last year. Absentee rates had run between 10 and 20 percent of students because of illness and 5 to 8 percent of staff prior to the holiday.
Staff and students are still encouraged to vaccinate against viruses and to mask if they have respiratory issues or have been exposed. 
"In the past, Massachusetts has always had very, very high rates of flu vaccination. There is some suspicion around vaccination fatigue," she said of lower rates of inoculation this year. "And so those are factors that are being attributed to higher rates of flu this flu season."

Tags: board vacancies,   North Adams School Committee,   

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MCLA Considering Temporary Homeless Housing on Campus

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is considering turning the vacant Berkshire Towers dorm into a temporary homeless shelter.
President James Birge said on Friday that the college is considering a partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development that would supply needed housing for 50 homeless families.
"I look at the mission of the institution, and we talk about educating students to be responsible citizens," Birge said. "I think this models that mission."
Birge said residents would be mostly younger families. He assumed 50 families would generate 25 school-aged children in the Berkshire Towers.
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