CHATHAM – Jacqueline Zibrat-Long is the town's newest representative on the Monomoy Regional School Committee.
In a joint meeting last Thursday, the board of selectmen and Chatham members of the school committee elected Zibrat-Long to fill the unexpired term of Amy Middleton, who recently resigned. Zibrat-Long was chosen in a 5-2 vote over a second applicant, Linda Kelley.
Zibrat-Long ran unsuccessfully for a school committee post earlier this year. A Chatham native and graduate of Chatham schools, she has children in the Monomoy school system and was a strong proponent of the regional system.
She will serve out the current year of Middleton's term through next year's annual election.
During discussions at last week's session, Selectman Dean Nicastro said vacancies on the school committee, or any elected office, need to be treated with more formality. Openings should be advertised separately from other committee vacancies, he said, and applicants should submit resumes rather than just filling out talent bank forms.
There are a total of four elected offices in town: the board of selectmen, housing authority, school committee and moderator. A special election is held if a member of the board of selectmen resigns. Filling vacancies in other offices is governed under state law; the board in question informs the selectmen of the vacancy within a month. Selectmen and the remaining members of the board then meet and elect a new member by roll call vote. The new member serves until the next annual town election.
Filling a vacancy on the school committee is handled differently from what's spelled out in the law; it is governed by the Monomoy Regional School Agreement, which currently calls for the board of selectmen in the town in which the vacancy occurs to hold an election with the remaining members of that town's school committee members. That's what happened here last week.
School Committee member Nancy Scott noted that the regional agreement is up for review and any town policy should be consistent with what's in the agreement.
“Any changes to the regional agreement have to go to town meeting anyway,” she said.
Chairman of Selectmen Jeffrey Dykens, a former Chatham School Committee member, said he'd raise the issue with Town Manager Jill Goldsmith. “This is a very important committee,” he said in reference to school committee vacancies.
Selectmen thanked both Zibrat-Long and Kelley for applying to fill the vacancy.
“We really do appreciate it,” Dykens said, “and hope you maintain your deep interest in the regional school committee.”