Williamstown Moderator Adam Filson ran Monday's meeting, which was attended by Mount Greylock Superintendent Kimberley Grady.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — By a vote of 10-3, Jamie Art was chosen Monday to fill a vacant seat on the Mount Greylock School Committee.
Per the regional agreement that joins Lanesborough and Williamstown in the preK-12 district, the vacancy created by the departure of Joe Bergeron required a meeting of the remaining School Committee members plus the select boards from both the district's member towns.
That made for 14 eligible voters. Thirteen attended Monday's meeting with one member of the School Committee, Williamstown's Alison Carter, currently on maternity leave.
There were five candidates before the joint meeting after Monday's withdrawal of former Williamstown Elementary School Committee member John Skavlem, who sent the district a letter saying that, in light of the high number of qualified applicants, he was happy continuing the serve the district on the School Committee's Phase 2 Capital Gift Subcommittee.
Art had previously told the committee that he would not be able to attend Monday's meeting because of a prior professional commitment.
The only candidate of the five Williamstown residents on the ballot who attended was Chris Kapiloff, another former School Committee member.
Kapiloff took advantage of the opportunity to address the joint meeting, and Childsy Art, Jamie's wife, read aloud his letter of interest to the district.
After hearing those two statements, it became apparent that the committee members saw the decision as a choice between two people.
And on the first roll-call vote called by Williamstown Moderator Adam Filson, the vote was seven for Art and six for Kapiloff.
Filson pointed to the language in the regional agreement which calls for the appointee to receive a majority of the eligible voters, a number that stands at 14 when the absent Carter was included.
Williamstown Select Board Member Hugh Daley, who voted for Kapiloff on the first go-around, indicated immediately that it would not take long to get that eighth vote.
"That [first] vote was helpful to me to see the School Committee's view on this," Daley said, pointing to the fact that four of the five School Committee members in attendance voted for Art on the initial vote. "I think this board has to take a little interest in how the School Committee thinks it should go."
Williamstown Select Board member Andrew Hogeland and Lanesborough Hank Sayers joined Daley in switching their votes, upping the final margin to 10-3.
Kapiloff had argued that his experience as the principal of Kapiloff's Glass would be a benefit to the district.
"To some degree, the school is always at a crossroads with some activity," Kapiloff said. "Right now, I think the big one is the closing out of the school building project [at Mount Greylock].
"Although the project has done no better or worse than the ones my company has been involved in … I know every building project has hidden albatrosses. We've seen some come up already. The potential for these things and the cost of these things to be shifted to the towns is significant.
"It's something I've had a lot of experience with, personally. I've served in my company as an estimator, a project manager and even as an installer. I'm well acquainted with school building projects and very well acquainted with the closeout process and the kinds of remedies schools have when things go wrong."
Kapiloff reminded the School Committee that back when Turner Construction, the general contractor on the addition/renovation project, was still painting rosy pictures of a timeline that would have the school occupied by students in April 2018, it was Kapiloff who told the committee that August 2018, was more realistic.
"I think I was a little off," he joked. "It was the first week in September."
Lanesborough Select Board member John Goerhlach, who voted for Kapiloff in both rounds of balloting, pointed directly to Kapiloff's professional experience.
"I know Chris has construction experience, and you guys on the School Committee have a tough fight coming," Goerlach said. "I don't see this going to arbitration [with Turner]. I see you having a fight there."
Several members of the joint committee agreed that Kapiloff's relevant business experience would come in handy. But several of the same members pointed out that Art, the general counsel at Williams College and formerly the director of real estate and legal affairs for the college, has plenty of experience of his own that will benefit the district in the kind of fight Goerlach envisioned.
All committee members praised all six residents who expressed interest as fine potential School Committee members.
Williamstown's Daley and Hogeland echoed the opinion of a number of committee members in saying there was very little separating Kapiloff and Art. But the two select board members each said Kapiloff's prior School Committee experience pushed them to favor him for the post.
"I think they'd both do well," Hogeland said. "Because Chris was here [on a School Committee], he'll understand the bureaucratic lingo, and he'll get up to speed a little faster."
School Committee members Dan Caplinger and Steven Miller talked about the number of people who had reached out to them to express their support for Art.
"I've had communications from teachers, school staff, a principal at another school, administrators at the college," Caplinger said. "He has the experience to not just jump into the issues of the moment but to adapt and handle whatever gets thrown at us. I can say from my brief experience on the [Mount Greylock Transition Committee and School Committee] and on the Williamstown Elementary School Committee, a lot gets thrown at you.
"Nothing I say is to diminish another candidate. But, to me, Jamie is a person who will be able to round himself out and get the support of the public that is so important."
Art will serve out the remaining year and a half left on Bergeron's term. He then would potentially run as an incumbent when the seat goes before the voters in the November 2020 election.
In the end, one member from each of the three elected bodies voted for Kapiloff in both votes: Goerlach, Williamstown Select Board member Jeffrey Thomas and Mount Greylock School Committee acting chair Regina DiLego.
Art received votes in the second poll from School Committee members Caplinger, Miller, Christina Conry and Al Terranova; Williamstown Select Board members Daley, Hogeland, Anne O'Connor and Jane Patton; and Lanesborough Select Board members Sayers and Gordon Hubbard, who participated in his first meeting on the board since his election last Tuesday.
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