BURRILLVILLE – The mother of three children in the Burrillville school system and former president of the Burrillville Parent Teacher Forum has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Burrrillville School Committee.
Jill Calapai was one of three residents who applied to fill the vacancy left by the recent resignation of Committee Vice Chairperson Dorothy Cardon.
According to the Town Charter, mid-term vacancies on the board must be filled by tapping the next highest vote-getter in the prior election cycle. But longtime member Cardon secured her current term in an uncontested election last November.
A mother of three daughters who each attend a different Burrillville school, Calapai said she knows a lot about how the town’s school system works. In addition to her work with the PTF, she has also served as a coach for the Burrillville Glocester Youth Soccer Association, and is current secretary for the organization.
“I’m right there for the kids and that’s why I’m here,” Calapai told members of the council at a meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 10. “I just want what’s best for the kids.”
“If you’re going to complain about anything you need to be involved to help to make it better,” she said.
Calapai’s daughters are the three young ladies pictured on locally-produced Gio’s Trio pasta sauce, the signature tomato sauce created and used at Bella Restaurant on Victory Highway, and sold at local grocers.
“I took that picture,” Calapai told councilors.
She currently works as the district’s parent and family engagement coordinator, a position she will have to leave as she takes her seat on the school board.
Also applying to fill the vacancy were retired school teacher Karen Trinque and Harrisville resident David Landry, also a father of three. Landry, who currently serves on the town’s Charter Review Commission, made his pitch to board members at the meeting.
“I think bringing a cool, calm, collected voice of reason and integrity to the School Committee, or wherever I go in the town, is important for me, Landry said.
Councilors voted for their first, second and third choice of the three candidates, with Landry missing the seat by just one vote.
Town Council President Donal Fox said that the unusual process, as dictated in the Town Charter, could use clarification in how it’s explained in the document.
“The charter, in this particular area, is a little bit vague,” Fox said, noting that the Charter Review Commission can take the issue up as part of their ongoing work. “I wouldn’t have minded if that perhaps had a little more guidance.”
“This is a situation, I think, that nobody ever thought would come about,” Fox said. “We just got lucky that we have three great candidates.”
Councilor Jeremy Bailey thanked the three candidates and encouraged them to run in the future election for a seat.
“I appreciate you putting your name in the hat to further help the town,” Bailey said. “It takes a village to run.”
Applicant Trinque was unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting.
“We have two wonderful candidates in front of us,” said Councilor Dennis Anderson. “I would vote for both of them.”
Calapai is slated to serve on the board until the town’s next election cycle in November of 2022.