Speranzo Appointed Central Berkshire Clerk-Magistrate

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Rep. Christopher Speranzo
BOSTON — State Rep. Christopher Speranzo, D-Pittsfield, was appointed Wednesday as the new clerk-magistrate at Central Berkshire District Court.

Speranzo landed the lifetime position by a split vote on the Governor's Council, 5 -4, with Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray casting the tie-breaking vote. He was the only Western Massachusetts candidate being considered for the position.

His recent nomination by Gov. Deval Patrick upset many city residents after he refused to discuss applying for the position last year. He was highly criticized for running for re-election at the same time as applying for the position that has been vacant for the last two years — reminding city residents of his predecessor, former Rep. Peter Larkin, who also applied for jobs during an election year and left the seat days after being sworn in.

Critics, including members of the Governor's Council, cited a lack of experience as reasons he should not be appointed to the clerk-magistrate position. He was an assistant attorney general in Springfield as well as a city solicitor for Pittsfield. He earned his bachelor's degree from Boston College and his master's degree from the University of Cambridge in 1998. He earned his law degree from Boston College Law School in 2001.

"Christopher Speranzo is an experienced attorney who will serve the region well as clerk-magistrate of the Pittsfield District Court. Throughout the process, Mr. Speranzo received a broad range of support from a judge and other members of the legal community in support of his strong character and qualifications," said the governor's Deputy Press Secretary Alec Loftus on Wednesday afternoon. "We are confident that his abilities and experience in the legal system will serve him and the Pittsfield District Court well."

The appointment leaves holes in a few important State House committees. This year, Speranzo held spots on the Ways and Means Committee, the Health Care Financing Committee and the special Joint Committee on Redistricting.

Speranzo won the 3rd Berkshire District seat in the state House of Representatives in a special election in 2005 - filling the spot vacated by Larkin, who quit to take a private-sector job just six days after being sworn in.

His departure is expected to force a special election for his successor, although the city will reportedly seek permission to delay the vote until the November municipal election.

Already, Ward 2 City Councilor Peter White, a Democrat, and Green-Rainbow Party's Mark Miller, who reeled in 45 percent of the vote last year running against Speranzo, have thrown their hats into the ring.

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Supplemental Bill Has $1M for Rural Schools, $200K for Barton's Crossing

BOSTON — The Legislature's recently passed $541 million closeout supplemental budget for fiscal 2019 includes another $1 million rural school aid, for in fiscal 2020, for a total of $3.5 million in rural school aid this fiscal year. 
 
"I'm happy to see this bill make those investments in public education, regional school transportation, public transportation, among many other areas " said state Sen. Adam Hinds, who has been a strong proponent of increasing aid to the schools in his largely rural district. "It is my hope that, in providing this additional investment, we can expand this program and make meaningful investments in more school districts."
 
The Rural School Aid grant program helps school districts with low population densities and lower-than-average incomes address fiscal challenges and take steps to improve efficiency. Administered by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Rural School Aid is a source of funding separate from Chapter 70 education aid and is intended to supplement the FY20 operating budgets of eligible school districts.
 
In order to qualify for Rural School Aid, DESE must determine that a school district meets two requirements:
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  2. Ability to pay, or the average per capital income of a school district.
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