Pittsfield weighing options to fill two seats on School Board

Monitor staff
Published: 5/5/2021 2:15:46 PM

Eight days after announcing the sudden retirement of two of its members, both of whom had another year left on their terms, the Pittsfield School Board will meet Thursday to begin searching for their replacements.

Interim Superintendent John Graziano said this week that he’ll submit his list of 10 candidates to fill the slots left by Bea Douglas and Ted Mitchell. Neither board member gave any indication last month about retiring before completing their three-year terms.

The School Board will ultimately decide on its two new members, after Graziano gives them the letters of interest that he preferred. He was unsure how long the decision would take.

“I’m still working on the specifics of that,” Graziano said. “My job is to compile and present those candidates and the School Board will decide how to move forward with that. I’m hoping for a process, and what will that process look like? I’m not sure, but I hope it will validate their decision-making and send a positive message that (new members) will be heard.”

Adam Gauthier, chairman of the School Board, was unavailable to explain what to expect Thursday night, or how long it could take before the board is back to full strength of five members.

Applicants had until Monday to submit their qualifications.

Graziano said Douglas and Mitchell emailed him with their decisions to retire. He honored their request to keep their reasons private, and wouldn’t say if there were any conflicts within the board.

Neither Douglas nor Mitchell could be reached for comment.

Graziano spoke in generalities when asked why the pair left so abruptly, but he narrowed the scope of possibilities somewhat in an email to the Monitor.

He wrote that a number of factors combined into a perfect storm, including budget cuts, staff cuts, program reductions and something called COVID, which knocked everyone off balance.

“All of this in a normal year is a lot to do,” Graziano said. “The challenges have taken its toll. Bea and Ted are not young people. They have earned the opportunity to enjoy their golden years gracefully.”

Gauthier had said in an earlier email that Douglas and Mitchell resigned “due to health and personal reasons. It is unfortunate to lose them and the amount of experience that they brought to the table.”

Graziano called both former board members “iconic.”

“Bea Douglass and Ted Mitchell have served the Pittsfield School District gallantly and admirably for almost a decade,” Graziano said in his email. “They were selfless board members and great people too. They always put students and their education first while supporting teachers, staff, and administration in all areas.”

Mitchell once served as the budget committee representative, while Douglas has been teaching for 30 years, beginning at Barnstead Elementary School. She’s been a second-grade teacher at Chichester Central School for 24 years, and served on the Pittsfield School Board for eight years, including 14 months as its chairwoman.

Pittsfield’s remaining three School Board members – Gauthier, Justin Clough and Jessica Drouin – are expected to participate at Thursday night’s meeting at 5:30 p.m. at Pittsfield Middle High School to begin the process. The meeting will be live streamed online.

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