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UMass chemistry professor joins Belchertown School Committee

— University of Massachusetts chemistry professor Michael J. Knapp is the newest member of the Belchertown School Committee.

A joint committee of the Belchertown Select Board and School Committee this week appointed Knapp to fill the vacancy left when the committee’s vice chairman, Eric Weiss, announced his plans to leave the committee. His resignation is effective July 1. Knapp’s appointment is for one year, to fill Weiss’ unexpired term.

The joint committee interviewed four candidates for the position at a meeting Tuesday night. The candidates included Thomas E. Seutier, Dawn French and Brent Nielsen. Each candidate was interviewed for about half an hour, according to Select Board Vice Chairman William Barnett, at the end of which the nine committee members voted on the appointment. Barnett says it took four rounds of voting for Knapp to get the necessary five out of nine votes for the position.

Knapp is a resident of Belchertown and has been involved in the Belchertown school system in the past. According to Belchertown Superintendent Judith Houle, Knapp has served on Belchertown search committees: one for science teachers and another to find an assistant superintendent. He’s also volunteered with the science classes at the high school.

Knapp is the second new face on the Belchertown School Committee this year. Myndi Bogdanovich was elected to a three-year position on the committee as a result of the Belchertown General Elections in May.

Bogdanovich unseated incumbent Beverly Phaneuf, who had been on the committee for nearly seven years. Neither Phaneuf nor Thomas Soja, the other runner-up in the May School Committee race, asked to be considered for the one-year term.

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