Warwick resident retiring after 35 years on Franklin Tech School Committee

  • A. George Day Jr., seen here outside Franklin County Technical School in Turners Falls, is not seeking another term on the School Committee after serving 35 years. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Warwick resident A. George Day Jr., at right during a meeting, is not seeking another term on the School Committee for Franklin County Technical School after serving 35 years. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 4/10/2022 4:47:20 PM
Modified: 4/10/2022 4:46:09 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Having spent their evening engaging with a tedious agenda of Franklin County Technical School business, School Committee members, faculty and staff were packing up to go home when 35-year member A. George Day Jr. raised his hand.

Commanding the room’s attention, Day announced his decision to not renew his term once it expires on June 30.

“I came onto this committee when descending schools dumped their troublemakers … over to the vocational schools,” he said to those in attendance, reflecting on his service. “It’s kind of funny that (nowadays,) these schools do everything they can to keep their eighth-graders from coming here.”

The 80-year-old Warwick resident, whose lengthy history of community involvement includes four decades of firefighting and law enforcement, service on various committees reaching back to the 1970s and a 50-year role as caretaker for Warwick’s town clock. For Franklin Tech, Superintendent Rick Martin said, Day has been “a rock on the School Committee” as its Warwick representative.

“George, it’s obvious how the people here feel about the job you’ve done,” Martin responded during the March meeting.

“On the committee, George has always been a steady voice and someone who reflects on his thoughts and decisions,” School Committee Chair Rich Kuklewicz said later. “He typifies the comment that a lot of School Committee members say, which is, ‘We’re here for the kids.’”

Reminiscing, Day said his favorite part about being on the committee has been “knowing that (he has been) serving the students of Warwick to the best of (his) ability.” Kuklewicz praised Day’s commitment to doing so “behind the scenes,” appreciating that he “didn’t need to be in the spotlight.”

“The students really don’t see us often,” Kuklewicz said. “We meet at night, we’re not educators at the school. … It wasn’t about what people saw. It was about what was best for people in the district.”

Day referenced an energy efficiency project the committee completed “quite a few years ago” as perhaps his most impactful endeavor. He recalled that the project resulted in the school receiving new lighting, motors, rooftop units, air systems and a transition from oil to natural gas.

“That was quite a large undertaking and over the years, it showed that we had saved a lot of money and energy cost,” Day said.

Kuklewicz independently identified the same project as Day’s most influential work.

“George was right there to watch the financials. … I think he’s that voice when there are financial things and they listen to what George has to say because they know he knows what he’s doing,” he said.

“The biggest thing I’ll say about George is we trusted what he brought to the table and he knew we were coming from a place of integrity,” Martin added.

When considering the past, present and future of Franklin Tech, Day circled back to elaborate on his comments at the meeting regarding an attitude shift in the way vocational schools are viewed by the public. He contrasted perceptions from when he joined the committee 35 years ago to those now as a “big switch.”

“I can remember when there were parents … that did everything they could to discourage (their children from enrolling) because of the reputation of vocational schools,” Day recalled. “They were looked upon as the place to send troublemakers and the kids who didn’t do well academically. They were told, ‘Go learn a trade.’”

Day said he hopes to see Franklin Tech continue innovating as the school seeks to further provide for students.

“As time goes on, it’s pretty hard to say what a new trade will be,” he said of the possibilities.

Day said those interested in filling his position should contact Warwick’s town moderator, who has the authority to appoint new members. Once appointed, members must attend monthly meetings from September to June unless special circumstances call for additional meetings in July or August. Those also interested in serving on a subcommittee might be required to attend more meetings.

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