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Elected board names certified

February 23, 2011

Gayla Reinhart

    Adams County Clerk Gayla Reinhart on Tuesday said the required number of signatures on a citizens' petition seeking an elected North Adams Community Schools' board of education have been certified.
    Reinhart said her office verified and approved 1,893 signatures on a petition submitted by the Our Children Our Future committee that could change the way board members are seated.
    "We ran all the signatures (on the petition) through the verification process, and they made it (the minimum number of required names) by about a dozen," said Reinhart. "Now we're just waiting for someone to come and pick up the petition."
    Certified signatures from at least 20 percent of the registered voters in the North Adams school district were needed to certify the petition.
    Charlie Brune, the driving force behind the Our Children Our Future committee, was thrilled to learn the petition had been certified.
    "That's awesome," he said at noon Tuesday.
    Brune said he would notify the school board, as required by law, of the petition's approval. He said notification would be made personally to Board President Michelle Stimpson.
    "At that point, the board has 30 days in which to act," said Brune. "And that probably means there's enough time for the board to discuss it and vote at the next regular board meeting on March 8."
    The board's options, as outlined by attorney Scott Ainsworth at a recent meeting, are to either accept the document and move toward its implementation, or to reject it and allow district voters to make that decision at the polls. The board's decision would start a 120-day window during which the public could offer comment, said the attorney.
    The school board's refusal to take any action, Brune said, constitutes non-approval of the plan.
    The Our Children Our Future petition calls for an elected, seven-member, non-partisan school board. The North Adams school district, for purposes of board representation, would be divided into two districts: District One, consisting of the municipal boundaries of Decatur, and District Two, consisting of the remainder of the school corporation in Union, Root, Preble and northern Washington townships.
    Under the proposal, three board members would be elected from each of the two districts, with a seventh, at-large member eligible to reside anywhere in the school district. Each would serve four-year terms.
    Candidates would be required to be 18 years of age or older and must have resided in the school district for at least one year.
    The petition spells out a staggered election formula during a prolonged transition period that would seat the first elected board member in 2013.

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