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The Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee is open to discussing sharing an administrator even as it continues its own search.

Updated: Adams-Cheshire Plans Talks with North Adams on Sharing Superintendent

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Editor's note: Complete write-thru at 3:42, on April 3, 2018. Several pages were missing from the report given to iBerkshires on Monday and corrections have been made in the article to reflect new information. The full report can be found at the bottom of the article. 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee members were "underwhelmed" by a seven-page report that outlined some benefits and concerns over sharing a superintendent with North Adams, but it was enough for them to desire talks with their city counterpart.
After quickly reviewing the District Management Group Shared Superintendent Feasibility Study on Monday, the committee asked to hash out the prospect of a shared administrator further with North Adams.
"No one has really talked, and we haven't had the opportunity to sit down and chat and have an open discussion," Superintendent Robert Putnam said. "I think we can improve everybody's understanding."
Putnam last year announced his retirement at the end of this school year, prompting a search committee to be formed.
The committee agreed to also look at the option of sharing a superintendent with another school district and the North Adams School Committee voted in February to fast-track part of a two-year feasibility study to look specifically at how a shared superintendent, presumably North Adams' Barbara Malkas, might work.
Adams-Cheshire is continuing its superintendent search process alongside this study.
The report outlined some benefits that include strengthening leadership and administrator teams, increasing grant opportunities and reallocating funds toward other priorities, aligning curriculums and sharing specialized services and administrators. 
It also mentioned some hurdles and possible mitigations, noting that many stakeholders felt the transition would be irreversible and suggesting that a trial period could be implemented to quell this concern. 
Also, the report stated that some stakeholders felt that this direction has not been clearly communicated to them and recommended that all stakeholders clearly informed. The report went on to say that a clear vision for the future of the district needs to be created and shared with the communities, families and students.
It also touched on the significant differences in governance between regional school committee representing two towns and a city school committee whose chairman is the mayor. 
"While these differences in governance structures cause additional complexity and a challenge to address, shared superintendents have been in place for decades often including three or more different school committees and governing structures in New England," the report states, using the North Berkshire School Union as an example. 
In the school union, Superintendent Jonathan Lev reports to four elementary school committees and a supervisory union committee. However, the makeup of those schools and committee are very similar and very small. Williamstown-Lanesborough schools, on the other hand, ran into difficulties when the regional high school and its two sending schools began sharing administrative staff. They are currently transitioning to a K-12 regional district in part to smooth out those governance problems. 
Stakeholders did raise a "pervasive" concern that a shared superintendent would not be able to give both districts the required attention, and that Adams-Cheshire would be most likely to be short-changed. Building trust and setting clear expectations would help to mitigate those concerns, the report states.  
"Significant benefits have been identified and thoughtful concerns have been raised," the report's summary reads. "It appears that all of the concerns, however, can be mitigated by thoughtful planning and setting of clear expectations."
Chairman Paul Butler said that he wished the report had more information and did not feel comfortable immediately making a decision.
"I guess I was a little underwhelmed with the contents of the report to be coy," he said. "I think the amount of time we had to look at this has been substantially limited."
A representative from the teachers' association said the union does not have a formal statement on the issue at this time but that teachers have felt out of the loop and that things were moving too quickly.
School Committee member Stephen Vigna agreed and suggested the committee solicit input from teachers, administrators, and community members.
"I think we are limiting this to the School Committee and I think it would be beneficial to get some quick input from the stakeholders," he said. "We want to make sure their concerns are heard."
Butler asked the association president to provide some input before the meeting with North Adams.
Vigna said he thought the School Committee should take the time to look at other options and possibly consider sharing a superintendent with the Berkshire Arts & Technology Public Charter School in Adams. (Vigna says he misspoke and meant North Adams Public Schools.)
The superintendent search committee has already conducted five interviews. Vigna said the plan is to bring final applicants for the School Committee to interview. He said he feared if they move too quickly into an agreement with North Adams, they could miss some good candidates.
School Committee member Darlene Rodowicz agreed but suggested they make a decision before conducting these final interviews.
Butler said a conversation with North Adams officials may reveal some of their concerns and allow an opportunity to look at other ways the two could possibly collaborate.
"At the very least, I think we owe it to ourselves and the city of North Adams to sit down with them in public session and see if, in fact, this will work and that both parties are comfortable," he said.
He added that if the two school districts decide to not share the superintendent this year, it does not mean they have abandoned the idea.

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Tags: ACRSD,   shared services,   superintendent,   

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St. Stan's Students Get Crash Course in Accident Reconstruction

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — State Troopers Kyle Cahoon and Sean Curley, members of the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section (CARS) Unit, met with St. Stanislaus Kostka middle school students to provide an in-depth look into the process and science behind accident reconstruction.
On Friday, May 17, the troopers showed students how they determine the causes of vehicular crashes and identify who may be at fault. Curley said CARS is not called to every accident but only the worst of the worst that conclude in severe injury, death, or considerable property damage.
"If we have a real bad crash where somebody is likely not to make it, that's when we get a phone call," he said. "The officer on the road will realize that this is a very, very serious crash, and it might be outside of his scope of what he does. He'll call the State Police."
He added that there are four CARS units across the state, but theirs covers the largest distance in Western Mass — from Worcester to Berkshire County.
"So, there are response times for us that are a long time," he said. "I have driven for almost two hours with my lights and sirens on."
According to Cahoon, there are three common elements that contribute to a crash: the driver, the vehicle, and the environment. He emphasized that accidents are rarely caused solely by vehicles. Instead, human factors, such as driver distraction or adverse road conditions, are typically the primary causes of accidents.
"It's not typically just an accident," Cahoon said. "Like they might be speeding and not paying attention, they might be on their cell phone when they shouldn't be. Ninety-nine percent of crashes we investigate are not accidents."
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