Amherst school boards cancel closed meeting

Staff Writer
Monday, August 01, 2016

AMHERST – Members of the Amherst-Pelham Regional and Union 26 schools committees have met in closed-door sessions for more than six hours the past two weeks without yet coming to a resolution on the topics being discussed, according to regional committee Chairwoman Laura Kent.

The first executive session July 13 and the second executive session July 20 were posted as meetings for conducting strategy and collecting bargaining negotiations with non-union personnel, while a third executive session, scheduled for Wednesday but then canceled, was supposed to be a meeting to conduct strategy and collective bargaining negotiations with Superintendent Maria Geryk.

Kent said in an email Tuesday that the third meeting was called off “because at this time there is no new information to share with the committee.”

Kent also explained that summer is a difficult time for members of the committees to find times to meet, but that she hopes to reschedule the meeting in the coming days, finalize the discussion and then “the committee will share a statement.”

Earlier, Kent said that the nature of the current situation, and protections provided by executive session, make it challenging to communicate details and outcomes.

Geryk was not identified as the subject of the executive sessions held July 13 and 20. Both meetings were posted “to conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations with non-union personnel or to conduct collective bargaining sessions or contract negotiations with non-union personnel.”

Thomas Colomb of the Boston and Springfield law firm Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane attended both executive sessions, but no school employees were present.

The committees have not yet issued their annual evaluation of Geryk, which had been scheduled to happen July 18 before that meeting was canceled. The July 18 meeting was also to have served as a retreat for the school committees, but Kent said that will be held in August and done in partnership with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees.

“Its purpose will be to focus on member roles, committee responsibilities and ways to foster collaboration, community engagement and create communication protocols,” Kent said, adding that it is an opportunity to get the next school year off on the right foot.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.