The Kingston Board of Selectmen and the Silver Lake Regional School Committee held a joint meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 6 in order to appoint a new member to the Regional School Committee following a resignation of one of the Kingston members. The appointment would be good through the next election in April. While the selectmen were in-person, the School Committee as well as the applicants attended the meeting via Zoom.
Selectwoman Kimberley Emberg began by saying they would hear from each of the five candidates before moving forward with a vote. Members of the Regional School Committee in attendance included Eric Crone, Christopher Eklund, Leslie-Ann McGee, and Paula Hatch. The five applicants were Anne Caliento, Missy Bateman, Emily Davis, Carl Pike, and Sheila Vaughn. Vaughn, who is a current member of the Kingston selectmen abstained from voting.
Bateman, who has been an educator for over 20 years, spoke first saying she was a lifelong resident of Kingston and a graduate of Silver Lake. She has two children in the district and currently serves on a recreation board as well as a local hockey board. Bateman said that she felt that her standing as both an educator and a parent would allow her to bring a sense of empathy and understanding to the Committee. She also said she was up to the challenge of serving despite the difficult times.
Caliento, whose parents were both teachers, said she has been a Kingston resident for 20 years and currently has a daughter in the 10th grade in the district. She told those assembled that she had contemplated running for School Committee for years but always determined herself to be too busy. “If anything the last year gave me the realization that I do have the time…it’s important to make the time for things that are important,” Caliento explained. She also said that she volunteered frequently in the schools when her daughter was younger and was hoping to become involved again.
Davis told the Committee that she moved to Kingston a few years ago from Pembroke. Both she and her husband have worked in education for many years. While no longer working as a teacher, Davis has stayed in the education field working on curriculum design online.
While originally from the South Shore, Davis said she has traveled all over both the country and the world working in various schools. She currently has a son in preschool and a daughter in first grade in Kingston schools.
“I love the school district here, it’s why I moved to Kingston,” Davis explained. She continued, “I think Silver Lake really has an opportunity to be at the forefront in education in Massachusetts.” Davis cited the regional nature of the district as well as the vocational education offered as the reasons she believes Silver Lake can be a leader in what she sees as a turning point in education.
Carl Pike began his statement saying, “I’m sure that you probably all have had a chance to look at the letter I sent in with my background and my beliefs and why I feel I would qualify for this position.” Pike said he has been active in the town working closely with the school administration and school committees on the budget. “I really believe that education is the number one responsibility of local communities… at the same time there are limited resources,” Pike explained. He went on to stress the importance of compromise when creating a budget saying, “school committee members need to be objective” and “what I strive for is to see that everybody gets something out of the deal.”
Vaughn, who currently serves on both the Kingston Board of Selectmen and the Kingston School Committee, was the final applicant. Vaughn, who has been a Kingston resident for over two decades, has three children including a fifth and eighth grader in the district. She said she would view the appointment as lasting only until the election in April.
“Once there is an election, I would be happy to see one of these wonderful people elected to the position,” she explained. She said that she felt that given the difficulties posed by both budget season and the pandemic, it would be best to have a seasoned person fill the role in the interim.
Vice Chair of the Regional School Committee Eric Crone addressed all the candidates prior to the vote saying, “I just want to say thank you to all five of these candidates; it’s overwhelming that we have this many people willing to step up and help out.” He went on to praise the backgrounds of the candidates and said that any of them would be a great addition to the current Committee.
Committee member Leslie-Anne McGee also spoke saying, “it’s been an exceptionally challenging time for us… it’s extremely complicated and I don’t think it’s going to be less complicated for any time now.”
She echoed Crone’s sentiment saying how impressed she was that so many people were willing to come forward to serve during such a challenging time.
An anonymous vote was held resulting in Davis receiving the highest number of votes. Both the selectmen and the School Committee made separate motions to appoint Davis to the Committee. The votes were both unanimous with the exception of Vaughn’s abstention.