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Boards appoints veteran Manley to committee

Date: 7/20/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW With the recent resignation of Thomas McGowan from the School Committee, weeks into his fourth term, the committee and the Board of Selectmen had a seat that needed to be filled as quickly and as capably as possible.

The two boards met together last Tuesday evening to interview four candidates for the seat, which the appointee will fill until next spring's annual town elections.

The four candidates included Elizabeth Marsian-Boucher, Michael O'Shea, Daniel Manley and Joseph Cabrera, who lost this year's election to McGowan.

Each candidate was asked a series of seven questions by the members of the School Committee and the Board of Selectmen, ranging from if the candidate could make all the meetings and events required of him or her to what the School Committee's role in the schools is to how each would deal with conflicts with other town departments.

All four candidates were also asked how they would rate the importance of the three areas of education in the East Longmeadow Public Schools - academics, athletics and extracurricular activities.

"I know all areas pretty well, and I'd rate them all as important to students' lives," Daniel Manley, the candidate chosen to fill the empty seat, stated. "[The] East Longmeadow [schools] as a whole prepares them [the students] very well, especially the academics."

Manley previously served on the School Committee from 2002 to 2008. He works as a member of the East Longmeadow Police Department.

Manley said that since he works third shift on the force, attending School Committee functions should not be a problem. He said the role of the committee for the schools is like that of a board of trustees that oversees the CEOs the superintendent and the school administrators. He noted that the superintendent should be a subordinate to the School Committee.

When asked by School Committee member Greg Thompson why he was interested in the position, Manley replied, "It's the same as it was before I like giving back to the community and making sure we have a top-rated education system for our town."

School Committee Chair Bill Fonseca said he liked the quality of all four candidates and encouraged all of them to continue being involved in the schools.

Selectman Paul Federici said he thought Manley, the person with the most experience, was the best candidate to step in right now to "do the best job on a short-term basis."

Angela Thorpe, a member of the School Committee, made the motion to appoint Manley. The first vote was 6 -- 1, with Selectman Jim Driscoll against.

Driscoll then called for a unanimous vote, explaining beforehand that he was originally in favor of O'Shea, but offered his support to Manley on the second vote, which was 7 -- 0.