Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo has resigned from his job with the school system and will now be allowed to vote on the school budget.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After nearly becoming the decisive non-vote on the purchase of new school buses, Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo has resigned from his position with the school system.
He is now able to vote on school-related issues.
Caccamo filed a letter of resignation two weeks ago, ending his employment as of Friday night. Caccamo was a data coach at Pittsfield High School, where he worked under the principal performing an array of tasks in the administrative and teaching support areas.
"I am not employed by Pittsfield Public Schools as of midnight last night," Caccamo said on Saturday, saying he left to "pursue future career changes."
Caccamo says he does not currently have another job in place. By leaving the job, Caccamo is now eligible to vote on school issues — including the school budget that will come before the City Council on Thursday.
"I was thinking about making a change for a while and now is a good time," Caccamo said.
Caccamo campaigned on supporting education even though acknowledging that he would not be able to vote for the budget while employed by the School Department. Earlier this year, a question of borrowing $2.7 million to purchase a new school bus fleet fell one vote shy of passing — a vote Caccamo would have provided.
"We've got the Taconic project coming up and I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I was the deciding vote on that," Caccamo said.
Ultimately, the bus request went back to the City Council in a subsequent meeting and Ward 1 Councilor Lisa Tully changed her vote to allow for the bonding.
Now school officials will be trying to receive approval for a $56 million budget. School funding in nearly every municipality is hotly debated because of the magnitude of costs in taxpayer spending. In Pittsfield, the schools account for 38 percent of the $148 million spending plan.
Caccamo says he will be advocating for the school, saying funding the education system can impact nearly all aspects of the city. He says the school budget isn't bloated and that every dollar spent affects performance.
"It is all ripple effects right down to real estate. When people are looking to buy a house in the city, they always look at the schools," Caccamo said. "Sometimes that is overlooked."
Another ripple effect is that Caccamo's resignation will now trigger a change in the city's budget. The councilors are paid an annual stipend of $8,000, which Caccamo could not accept. Mayor Daniel Bianchi did not include that stipend in his budget, so that part will have to be edited to pay Caccamo.
"I'll be moving forward with this budget as a full board member," Caccamo said.
Caccamo will also now be eligible for re-election. He had just been elected in the fall at the same time voters passed a new charter, which does not allow school employees to hold positions on the City Council.