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Laura Scott, former public school teacher, appointed to Easthampton school board

Scott received the most votes Wednesday from School Committee and City Councilors in a secret ballot election, beating out four other candidates who had stepped forward to fill the opening, according to the school department.

Scott, 33, whose two children attend preschool and kindergarten in Easthampton, was sworn in following the vote. She will serve on the board for the remainder of the calendar year.

School Committee Chairwoman Nancy Sykes said she was impressed by all of the candidates who expressed interest in the board seat. “They all had varied credentials and interests, and were all articulate and enthusiastic,” she said.

Sykes said School Committee and City Council members were prepared to go through a few rounds of voting to produce a majority, but Scott won on the first ballot.

“I think she will be a really good addition to the committee,” Sykes said.

Reached by phone Thursday, Scott said she was thrilled to be joining the school board. “I’m pleased to see the willingness to accept someone younger for this position,” she added.

A resident of Easthampton for the past five years and a former social studies teacher in the Holyoke public schools, Scott joins the school board as the mayor is developing a budget for 2014.

On Tuesday, the School Committee recommended a $17.38 million level-services spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The budget is based on funding from the city of $15.61 million, a 3 percent increase over the current year’s appropriation of $15 million.

Scott said she will work to find increased funding for the schools for the long term and will also press for more community outreach by school leaders.

“I think for a lot of citizens in town there is a large concern about the number of students Easthampton is losing” to other districts through school choice, she said. “There’s the reality of the positivity of our schools versus the public perception. I think we need to focus on improving our public relations.”

Four other city residents who had expressed interest in the school board vacancy were Teresa S. Barut, a math teacher at Hampshire Regional High School; Laurie A. Garcia, a world languages teacher at Amherst Regional Middle School; Lois B. Levin, a dietitian and member of the Easthampton Schools Wellness Committee; and Wendy Bloomenthal, an elementary school parent.

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