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North Adams School Committee Seeks Candidates for Vacant Seat
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
02:32AM / Wednesday, August 05, 2020
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Committee and City Council hope to fill the vacancies on their respective boards next week. 
 
The committee at its regular meeting Tuesday agreed to request statements of interest from prospective candidates. The deadline for letters of interest is Monday, Aug. 10, at 4 p.m. at nrauscher@napsk12.org.
 
The committee will convene on Aug. 11  Thursday, Aug. 13, at 6 p.m. with the City Council for a joint vote on a replacement candidate. The council will meet on Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 7:30 to vote on a candidate to fill its own vacancy.  
 
The two governmental seats were left vacant by the resignation of Robert Moulton Jr., who last November was returned to the council after an absence and elected to a first term on the School Committee.
 
Candidates must be able to vote in the city and will be able to make a case for their selection at the meeting, which will be held over Zoom. They will have 3 minutes each to speak and the committee and council will have up to 10 minutes to question them. 
 
The selection will be made by a majority vote. 
 
Mayor Thomas Bernard, chairman of the committee, said the city charter is "instructively vague or vaguely instructive" in that it only states the vote on replacement is made by a vote of both committee and council. 
 
He drew up a document of procedure that had also been reviewed by the committee's labor counsel, who he said felt it was an appropriate process. It sets out the call for candidates beginning Wednesday and the process through which the votes would be taken and makes the mayor the presiding officer. 
 
School Committee member Tara Jacobs wondered if there was sufficient time for candidates to come forward, noting it would be less than a week. 
 
Bernard said he had wanted to align the vote with that of the City Council.
 
"They did have the advantage of a meeting immediately following the notification of vacancy so they were able to get their notice out a little more," he said. "I didn't want to act without the discussion that we couldn't have until until tonight. ... I think it's important that we fill this seat." 
 
Moulton resigned from both seats on Monday, July 27, and the council met the day after. 
 
Committee member Heather Boulger noted that there were two other candidates who ran unsuccessfully last November. 
 
"There are people in line to join," she said. "I think it's enough time from past experience."
 
Bernard said he would get the posting out "far and wide."
 
In other business, Superintendent Barbara Malkas went over preliminary back-to-school plans of fully reopening, a hybrid model and remote. These plans will be presented to parents on Thursday and Friday. 
 
The committee approved two resolutions from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. The first calls on the state to provide funding to help school districts open safely during the pandemic. "The state cannot expect mandatory COVID-19 safety guidelines to be followed without also ensuring that each school district has the funds required to implement these guidelines," the resolution reads. 
 
The second was on equity and anti-racism and stated that "school committees have the responsibility to equip students with their civil rights of obtaining a free and appropriate public education. It is the responsibility of each school to ensure we create a welcoming community for all students."
 
• Committee members Boulger, Jacobs and Ian Bergeron were assigned to the School Building Committee for Greylock School. The district had been accepted into the Massachusetts School Building Authority's eligibility phase in December but had postponed creating a committee when the pandemic hit.
 
• The committee voted to amend the contract with the business administrator for completing credentials as a Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official. Malkas said the salary adjustment would compensate her for  additional work she would now be qualified to do for Greylock School project and that the district would no longer have to contract out on large purchase orders. 
 
Bergeron and Jacobs both expressed reluctance that a raise in wage would be made during a time of budget concerns. 
 
"It's a very bad time for this," Bergeron said. "That said, I have to vote for this as a cost-saving measure. Overall, institutionally, this will save us in the long run."
 
Editor's note: Please note date change for joint meeting of the School Committee and City Council. 
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