NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — McCann Technical School will completely overhaul the school website to bring it up to date and make it more user-friendly.
The School Committee unanimously voted Thursday to allocate $25,000 from the tuition account to hire Finalsite to create a new website for the school.
"We have had a lot of problems with the website ... the website is probably 20 years old and it is using a system that we cannot access to change things," Superintendent James Brosnan said. "So when you visit the School Committee site you will see some old friends in the photos."
Brosnan said there was a small website update 10 years ago but much of the information on the site is outdated. The website administrator in New Hampshire has to be called to make any changes on the site.
Parent and School Committee member Susan Reinhardt noted it is often easier to call the school than to use the website.
"As a parent using that website is terrible you can't even tell if school is canceled or where games are," she said.
Brosnan said administrators created specifications they wanted in a new website and sent out an request for proposals.
He said Finalsite will allow administrators to make changes to the site wherever and whenever they want by simply dragging in new photos or new information. He added that the company offers 24/7 customer service and the site will migrate to mobile devices.
Brosnan added that the new site will allow the school to better harness social media.
"How do we get to that media because when we look around the room most of us are of a different time," he said. "This kind of millennial media ... we want to utilize Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – not that I am going to be tweeting."
Brosnan said it will cost $15,000 to set up the site initially and then $8,000 annually.
A second bid was received from Website Design and Management in the Midwest that although cheaper with an annual cost of $4,000, did not meet many of the specifications the school is looking for.
"I've got a guy that says 'it is in there and this is what it will cost' and another that says 'we can add it'," he said. "So I am not interested in that at all because they did not meet the specifications."
He said the school pays a little under $8,000 a year for its current website.
The School Committee authorized some other purchases Thursday and spent down the $195,873 state Skills Capital Grant received earlier this summer.
Brosnan said he called the evening's meeting to execute the purchases so the new equipment would be at the school and installed by the beginning of the school year.
"I know I said see you in September, but we found out afterword that they wanted to push the money out rather than holding it until the first of the year," he said. "That is why we are meeting tonight to get to these bids and get this equipment purchased."
The first bid executed was a 3D printer/prototype system. The committee approved the only bid from AET Labs for $103,793.
"It was exactly what we were looking for and it hit the nail on the price," Brosnan said. "It is exciting isn't it?"
The next purchase was a robotic manufacturing center that the committee voted to purchase from Technical Education Products for $51,500.
There were two other bids: one for $86,623 and another for $47,505. The lowest bid did not meet all of the school's specifications even though it was closer to what officials wanted to spend.
The final bid of the night was the 40 new engineering workstations that School Committee voted to purchase from Dell for $41,998.
Brosnan also asked for $10,000 from the tuition account to cover any installation costs the grant may not completely cover.
"I am not quite sure what it is. It may only be a few hundred dollars, or it could be a few thousand," he said. "This gives us some flexibility and allows us to get the right folks in to in to install it."
The school also received a $2,000 check from General Dynamics to help support STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programming.
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Know Your Risk Tolerance at Different Stages of Life
Submitted by Edward Jones
As an investor, you will always need to deal with risk of some kind. But how can you manage the risk that has been made clear by the recent volatility in the financial markets? The answer to this question may depend on where you are in life.
Let's look at some different life stages and how you might deal with risk at each of them:
• When you are first starting out: If you are early in your career, with perhaps four or even five decades to go until you retire, you can likely afford to invest primarily for growth, which also means you will be taking on a higher level of risk, as risk and reward are positively correlated. But, given your age, you have time to overcome the market downturns that are both inevitable and a normal part of investing. Consequently, your risk tolerance may be relatively high. Still, even at this stage, being over-aggressive can be costly.
• When you are in the middle stages: At this time of your life, you are well along in your career, and you are probably working on at least a couple of financial goals, such as saving for retirement and possibly for your children's college education. So, you still need to be investing for growth, which means you likely will need to maintain a relatively high risk tolerance. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to have some balance in your portfolio, so you will want to consider a mix of investments that align with each of your goals.
• When you are a few years from retirement: Now, you might have already achieved some key goals – perhaps your kids have finished college and you have paid off your mortgage. This may mean you have more money available to put away for retirement, but you still will have to think carefully about how much risk you are willing to take. Since you’re going to retire soon, you might consider rebalancing your portfolio to include some more conservative investments, whose value is less susceptible to financial market fluctuations. The reason? In just a few years, when you are retired, you will need to start taking withdrawals from your investment portfolio – essentially, you will be selling investments, so, as much as possible, you will want to avoid selling them when their price is down. Nonetheless, having a balanced and diversified portfolio doesn't fully protect against a loss. However, you can further reduce the future risk of being overly dependent on selling variable investments by devoting a certain percentage of your portfolio to cash and cash equivalents and designating this portion to be used for your daily expenses during the years immediately preceding, and possibly spilling into, your retirement.
• When you are retired: Once you are retired, you might think you should take no risks at all. But you could spend two or three decades in retirement, so you may need some growth potential in your portfolio to stay ahead of inflation. Establishing a withdrawal rate – the amount you take out each year from your investments – that's appropriate for your lifestyle and projected longevity can reduce the risk of outliving your money. Of course, if there's an extended market downturn during any time of your retirement, you may want to lower your withdrawal rate temporarily.
As you can see, your tolerance for risk, and your methods of dealing with it, can change over time. By being aware of this progression, you can make better-informed investment decisions.
Wayne Gelinas and Lea King have been forced to shutter their Mohawk Trail eatery, at least for the time being. But they have found a way to continue business online while providing free meals to those in need.
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