Following election, Gill-Montague School Committee still seeking additional member

  • Turners Falls High School and Great Falls Middle School. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/9/2021 4:35:04 PM

MONTAGUE — Although Valeria “Timmie” Smith and Jennifer Waryas won the Gill-Montague Regional School District School Committee elections for Gill and Montague, respectively, there remains a vacancy on the board for a Montague resident.

Town elections in Gill were held on May 17, while those in Montague were held on June 22. Smith, an incumbent School Committee member representing Gill who had resigned in March for personal reasons, was re-elected with 381 votes (312 from Montague, 69 from Gill).

Despite her resignation, Smith’s name was on the ballot for the spring election because she was concerned that, if no one ran for the position, the School Committee may have too few members to legally function.

“I really believe in the work of the School Committee,” Smith said in advance of the election.

Waryas, who won her seat to represent Montague through write-in votes, amassed 19 votes, all from the town of Montague. Having not actively campaigned for her position, Waryas still managed to garner enough support due to there being no candidate officially on the ballot.

“I mean, surprised would be the first thing,” Waryas said of her reaction to winning the election.

Waryas had previously served on the Montague Finance Committee, in addition to having worked in business positions for the University of San Francisco, New England Public Media and other various nonprofit and for-profit organizations. She said she decided to be a write-in candidate for School Committee because she couldn’t bear to see a lack of candidacy.

“When I saw no one was running, it broke my heart,” Waryas said. “Education is the one thing in life where things should be even. Because life isn’t fair, right?”

Although she has never worked in the field of education before, Waryas believes her business and financial background will be a great asset to the School Committee.

“School isn’t a business necessarily, but there is a product,” Waryas said. “I would approach it like an audit: ‘What’s working and what’s not working?’”

She welcomes the unexpected opportunity, regardless of how specifically her professional skill set matches up with her role.

“I love collaborating, and if everyone’s there to make things better, I think it’ll be great,” Waryas said.

The Gill-Montague School Committee consists of three Gill residents and six Montague residents. Each member elected to the School Committee will serve for three years.

According to School Committee Chair Jane Oakes, any Montague resident interested in being appointed to the remaining vacancy should send a letter of interest to the Superintendent’s Office at 35 Crocker Ave., Turners Falls, MA 01376, by Monday, July 12. An appointment will be made at the July 13 School Committee meeting.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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