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The original item was published from 4/21/2020 10:22:00 AM to 4/21/2020 10:22:06 AM.

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Posted on: April 3, 2020

[ARCHIVED] Four Residents Submit Statements of Interest to Fill Amherst School Committee Vacancy

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Four Amherst residents have submitted Statements of Interest to be considered to fill the seat on the Amherst School Committee previously held by Eric Nakajima until his resignation on March 1, 2020. The Town Council and remaining members of the School Committee will interview candidates and vote to fill the vacancy at a virtual joint special meeting on April 14 at 6:00 pm. If technical difficulties arise that prevent the interviews and vote to fill the vacancy, the meeting will be continued to April 16 at 6:00 pm.

The four candidates are: 

  • Gastón de los Reyes, Jr of 45 Canton Avenue
  • Ryan P. Driscoll of 384 Henry Street
  • Katie Lazdowski of 20 Overlook Drive
  • Heather A. Lord of 700 F Riverglade Drive 

“We are fortunate to have such strong interest from the community in serving our public schools,” said Allison McDonald, Chair of the Amherst School Committee. McDonald added “We have a lot of important and challenging work ahead of us and I’m pleased that these individuals are stepping forward to potentially join the Committee in doing that work.” Lynn Griesemer, President of the Amherst Town Council, said “The Town Council and School Committee have agreed upon a process and set of questions that will allow candidates to demonstrate their readiness to assume this critical position on our School Committee.”  

The meeting will be held via Zoom webinar. Amherst Media will broadcast the meeting live on channel 17. Public comment will not be part of this special meeting. 

Amherst Home Rule Charter, Section 4.1.c governs vacancies in elected Town-wide offices other than the Town Council. The Charter requires a roll call vote of both bodies, and the winning candidate must receive a majority of votes of the 17 remaining filled seats on both boards. Under the law, absences and abstentions do not affect that requirement. There are thirteen Town Councilors and four School Committee members so at least nine positive votes must be made for the selected individual, regardless of how many members of the Town Council and Amherst School Committee are present. 

The selected individual shall be sworn in virtually by the Town Clerk as soon as possible and will serve until newly elected members of the Amherst School Committee are sworn in on Monday, January 3, 2022. If the selected individual also wishes to be on the November 2, 2021 ballot for a two-year term, s/he must follow the same process as any other candidate for Town-wide office.  Per the Amherst Home Rule Charter, the individual will not be listed on the ballot as “a candidate for re-election”. 

The new Amherst School Committee member also serves on the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee. Check the schools’ website for already scheduled meetings of the Amherst School Committee and Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee.  

On Wednesday, April 8, the Town Council President will send an email providing all candidates, all members of the Amherst School Committee, and all Town Council members with information about the process adopted by the Town Council so all are aware of how the vacancy will be filled. The email will also include the candidates’ Statements of Interest; a description of the Amherst School Committee’s responsibilities and expectations; and questions for the candidates.  This material will also be available in the meeting packet material for the April 14, 2020 meeting. 

Contact: Athena O’Keeffe: Clerk of the Town Council | Phone (413) 259-3209 

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