The state Department of Education failed to act as expected at its recent meeting on a citizens' petition that would change the method of seating North Adams school board members from the current appointment process to a seven-member elected board.
School board attorney Scott Ainsworth told the board at last month's meeting that the state was in the process of reviewing a citizens' petition that would change the method of seating North Adams school board members from the current appointment process to a seven-member elected board. A decision on the merits of that petition was expected at the state education board's Oct. 5 meeting.
But Ainsworth told local board members at Tuesday's regular meeting that no word had been received from the state and that he had received no documentation of the board's decision.
Speaking from the audience, community activist Charlie Brune said he had attended the meeting and that the state board took no action on the elected school board petition "because they had bigger fish to fry." The meeting, Brune said, was dedicated entirely to the federal No Child Left Behind Act. States have been authorized to opt out of some portions of the federal law.
Brune had headed up the citizens' group that spearheaded the elected-board petition.
North Adams school board members voted in March of this year to accept a the petition that calls for board members to be elected, effectively replacing the school district's 40-year method of filling board seats by appointment.
Key components of elected board plan include a seven-member, non-partisan board; two board districts (rural and city), with three members elected from each district; and one at-large member. Members would serve overlapping and staggered terms.