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Williamstown School Board Seeks Volunteer For Vacancy
By Stephen Dravis, Special to
10:51PM / Wednesday, June 13, 2012
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An empty chair between Williamstown Elementary School Committee member Christopher Jones and Chairwoman Margaret McComish is waiting for a volunteer to serve a term opened by a spring resignation on the five-person panel.

Williamstown Elementary School Principal Joelle Brookner, right, reports to the School Committee at its Wednesday meeting at Town Hall.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — In its first meeting since town meeting and its last meeting before a summer hiatus, the Williamstown Elementary School Committee issued a call for help.

"I'd like to mention that we're looking for a fifth member," Chairwoman Margaret McComish said Wednesday night for the benefit of viewers on the town's WilliNet community television station.

A spot on the board opened up this spring after one of the members resigned. A replacement would be appointed jointly by the School Committee and the Selectmen to serve until the town election next May, McComish explained.

"At that point, there would be an election held to serve a two-year term on the committee," she said. "Hopefully, we'll find someone to volunteer for this important work."

McComish made her pitch shortly after she was elected by the board to continue on as chairman. Re-organization of the body was the main order of business as it convened for the last time until Aug. 22, one week before the start of the 2012-13 school year.

Valerie Hall was elected vice chairman, and the committee's newest member, Christopher Jones, was voted in as secretary. Jones was elected to the committee last month at the town election.

The committee Wednesday also decided on assignments for the next academic year, appointing McComish, Hall and John Skavlem to the subcommittee governing the Williamstown-Lanesborough School Union 71, Skavlem to the Building Renewal Subcommittee, Jones to the Long-Range Plan School Governance Council, Hall to the Williamstown Elementary School Endowment Committee and two members each to the School Committee's three collective bargaining subcommittees: McComish and Jones for the teachers, Hall and Skavlem for paraprofessionals and Hall and Skavlem for buildings and grounds.

Union 71 Superintendent Rose Ellis reported to the board that the town school's endowment committee had approved about $44,000 in grant applications for the end of the current school year and the 2012-13 academic year.

Among the highlights were a "Bringing History to Life" program that already has brought a re-enactor from Plimouth Plantation to talk to third-grade students, a five-day residency for math education consultant Tom Schersten, a Chinese lunch table organized by WES Mandarin teacher Xiaohong Wan and funding for bus transportation to bring students to North Adams for programs at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.

Ellis informed the committee that the union has hired Mary MacDonald of Williamstown and formerly of Lenox Memorial Middle and High School to serve as the tri-district curriculum, instruction and assessment coordinator.

"In the past, this was a part-time position, but I felt strongly after review that it should be full time," Ellis said.

She said the increased funding to upgrade the position to full-time status is coming from Mount Greylock Regional High School, which composes Union 71 along with WES and Lanesborough Elementary School.

In addition to the open spot on the elementary School Committee, WES Principal Joelle Brookner suggested another volunteer opportunity for community members who wanted to help the school: participation in an Aug. 15 long-range planning meeting.

"Community members, faculty, staff and committee members are welcome to participate," Brookner said. "It's a really wonderful way to get involved with the bigger picture of the elementary school."

Anyone interested in participating in the 9 a.m. meeting is encouraged to contact Brookner or Ellis, who noted that Lanesborough's version of the meeting will be held on Aug. 17
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