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Student Joshua Graham, right, shows Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray the electronics equipment in the classrooms.
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Pittsfield Officials Press Murray For New-School Funding

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Student Champagne Eurquhart, teacher Francine Barber and Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray look over the health science classroom.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray toured classrooms of a school built in 1931 to see the jobs of the future.

Murray is on a quest to visit all 60 schools that offer technical/vocational educational programs and Thursday he was given a tour through Pittsfield High School where he saw culinary, health sciences and electronics programming.

"We need to put an increased emphasis on vocational and technical education," Murray said.

Murray talked with students about their personal goals and said the state needs to do a better job matching the education with the prospective jobs. There are expected to be 10,000 new manufacturing jobs in the next 10 years, so the opportunities are out there, he said.

But in the technical field, the jobs are always changing. School Committee member Terry Kinnas said he wants the state to allow curriculums to change in areas depending on career opportunities.

"We've got to be more nimble," Murray agreed. "One of the aspects around STEM is that it is not a one-size-fits-all."

Meanwhile, school and local officials pressed the need for a state-of-the-art building. While Murray couldn't promise funding for that, he did say the school has a chance to at least upgrade its equipment with a portion of $5 million set aside in matching grants.

"There's been frustration in the last year or so because the rules have changed," Mayor Daniel Bianchi told Murray, referring to changes in the way the state School Building Authority prioritized and processes requests for additional funding.

Bianchi said officials have been trying to secure funding for more than six years and still haven't been invited into the program.

"It's slow going to be honest with you. And we see schools around us get going," state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, said.

The Adams-Cheshire Regional School District completed a high school renovation. North Adams Public Schools and Berkshire Hills Regional School District were both granted funding for projects. The Pittsfield Public Schools and Mount Greylock Regional School District are both vying for an invitation to move forward with projects.

Tags: school project,   state officials,   STEM,   

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