John Kelly ousts Ed Boiselle from South Hadley School Committee
SOUTH HADLEY — Newcomer John Kelly won a seat on the South Hadley School Committee in the April 1 elections, ousting veteran school committee member Ed Boiselle. Kelly beat Boiselle by 461 votes in an election marked by low voter turnout.
There were three candidates competing for two open seats on the school committee this year.
Incumbent Dale Carey held on to his seat with 692 votes. Kelly won 770 votes and Boiselle won 309.
“We ran an extensive, aggressive campaign,” Kelly said. “We were really out there, listening and talking to people. I think that makes the difference.”
Kelly, a father of four, believes that the two biggest issues facing the school committee right now are curriculum reform and improvement of special educations programs.
“I’ve got kids in the school system, two of whom have IEPs,” Kelly said, referring to individualized education programs for students who requires special services. “I share a lot of the concerns of the parents.”
According to Kelly, approximately 300 South Hadley students are on IEPs. Kelly wants to revise the special edutin programs to increase program consistency and teacher training.
“I think the teachers are fantastic,” Kelly said. “The issue is that we need to coordinate programs.”
A finance controller at Smith & Wesson in Springfield, Kelly said he believes his background in management will help him to streamline the curriculum and bring about change on the school committee.
“Part of the problem that the school committee has had in the past is that there’s no managerial emphasis — defining goals/objectives and providing support to achieve them,” Kelly said.
Kelly siad he believes Superintendent Nicholas Young, who was appointed a year and a half ago, is on the right track to reforming the school system.
“Superintendent Young is off to a great start,” Kelly said. “I want to help him follow through on his objectives.”
“Three to five years from now, I want to be able to say we’ve made major strides in these programs,” Kelly said.
Boiselle was a member of the committee for 10 years and chairman in 2010, when the South Hadley School Committee came under fire in the ake of the bully-related suicide of South Hadley High School freshman Phoebe Prince.
Boiselle was also a defendant in a lawsuit related to the Prince case. Luke Gelinas alleged Boiselle violated his First Amendment rights by not allowing him to speak about Prince’s death at a school committee meeting. The town settled the case for $75,000, Gelinas’ lawyer said in February 2012.
Boiselle was the only remaining school committee member who had been on the panel at the time of Prince’s death.
Select Board and other elections
South Hadley also elected a new member to the Select Board. Sarah Etelman will replace Robert Judge, who resigned this year. Etelman ran uncontested and received 655 votes.
Incumbent Ira Brezinsky was re-elected with 790 votes. Brezinsky also ran unopposed.
Newcomer Lori Eldridge won a three-year term as a Precinct E Town Meeting member. Eldridge received 123 votes, ousting incumbent Robert Berwick, who received 110 votes. There were nine candidates running for eight positions. The other seven incumbents retained their positions.
Kenneth Rogers won a one-year seat in District E with 70 votes. He defeated Bruce Forcier (54 votes) and Shane Archambault (40 votes).
In the race for a five-year Housing Authority seat, Robert Nolin defeated Dorothy Martin with 480 votes to 355.
South Hadley Town Clerk Carlene Hamlin said 1,051 of the 10,926 registered voters in South Hadley went to the polls.
Hamlin said that voter turnout is usually 13 to 15 percent for town elections. This year 9.6 percent of voters made it to the polls.
Hamlin said that too many recent elections and not enough contested races could be responsible for the low turnout.
“We had a Feb. 26 debt exclusion election, and then the April 30 special election for John Kerry’s Senate seat,” Hamlin said. “We’ve had a lot of elections, and I think that people were just getting confused about it.”