PITTSFIELD — This week, elected leaders will appoint someone to fill a vacancy declared on the School Committee.
And Monday is the last day that Pittsfield residents can toss their hat in the ring.
It marks the first time a School Committee vacancy will be filled under the terms of the city charter voters adopted in 2013. The process launched after NAACP Berkshire branch President Dennis Powell publicly resigned last month in protest of the majority of the committee’s pick for superintendent, Joseph Curtis.
Under the charter, School Committee vacancies are filled at a joint meeting of the City Council and the remaining members of the School Committee. The joint session has to happen “within 30 days following the date of the vacancy.”
That leaves the decision about who among the applicants will serve on the committee for the next several months up to 17 elected officials — the six remaining School Committee members and 11 city councilors.
Councilors and School Committee members will make their appointment at a virtual meeting set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, said City Council President Peter Marchetti.
The charter says those 17 elected officials must “choose a person” to fill the vacancy, but doesn’t comment on how the two bodies should arrive at their final pick. Marchetti said a discussion about what officials are looking for in a potential pick will kick off the meeting on Wednesday, before officials debate the candidates, and ultimately make a decision.
“It would make sense for us to all agree on a procedure before we move forward,” he said Saturday. “Otherwise, it's going to be a little chaotic.”
There are a few applicants to the position so far said Katherine Yon, chairperson of the Pittsfield School Committee, but no “huge avalanche” of interest so far.
Marchetti said three people have so far submitted letters of interest in the position, and School Committee member Dan Elias said two who put their name up for consideration to fill the declared vacancy are running for School Committee in this fall’s local elections.
Marchetti says he’s disinclined to favor a candidate running for School Committee in the fall for the vacant position.
“I have a hard time selecting someone who has taken out their papers, who wants to be a challenger, because if you choose one over the other, have you now made it easier for one of those people to win in November?” he said.
“Does it look like you're picking someone and giving them an edge in the next election?” he added.
Yon notes that nothing in the charter stops whomever the joint session appoints from going on to pull papers to run in the election for the School Committee.
Those interested in being considered for the position must be a city resident and registered voter, and the deadline to apply is Monday. According to a joint statement from Yon and Marchetti, they should send a brief description of their background with an explanation of their qualifications for the School Committee seat to Rosemarie Blake, Curtis' administrative assistant.
The materials can be mailed to the Mercer Administration Building, 269 First St., or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Monday.