NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The McCann School Committee met Thursday night in North Adams for what will be the last meeting of the year before students report in a week.
The meeting was also the last for Aaron Dean who will be taking over as superintendent of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District.
"He's a remarkable young man who has given his all to this committee, he has the ability to handle many issues at once," said Superintendent James Brosnan. "Thoughtful. Perceptive. That's probably a reason why [he was hired], he was so good here that the selection committee said 'Hey, he's our guy.' ...
"He'll be missed on a personal and professional level. I look forward to working with him as a colleague."
As Dean begins his career as top administrator, Brosnan was praised by the committee for two plus decades of service to the district in his recent evaluation.
Dean, who led the project, was first to chime in. "Our continued performance in SkillsUSA and MCAS has made us a prominent program wherever we go throughout the country," he said, in support of Brosnan. "We've also been steady all along in enrollment, which is a hard thing to do in today's competitive environment."
Former principal and current Chairman Gary Rivers noted Brosnan's trust in his staff. "He gives his administrative team a lot of latitude," he said. "Having worked with Jim for 25 years. I can honestly say it's been a pleasure."
The survey evaluated all aspects of the job. Not only academic and leadership performance but financial issues and the ability to engage the community through parent interaction.
Dean finished the report by noting "Exemplary was a nearly unanimous rating."
Principal Justin Kratz began his report by giving an update on the Standards Based Grading (SBG) system that will be instituted as a pilot program for the 2020 incoming class.
"We've been preparing over the course of the summer, I've been meeting with a teacher's group, preparing materials in support for our teachers when they come in next week," Kratz said. "We have a good chunk of our professional development time on those days devoted toward transitioning our freshmen curriculum maps to freshmen SBG maps."
SBG is viewed as a more comprehensive assessment of a student's mastery of a particular subject and breaks down subject matter into smaller "learning targets." Where a student would receive a one line grade (A,B,C,etc.) in the past, they would now be judged using a 1-4 scale on several different goals within the semester.
Kratz reached out to the admissions office at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts for help communicating to parents that "This is nothing scary." He noted that the college will be sending representatives to Freshman Parent night next spring to help explain the change in philosophy.
Final enrollment numbers were not available but Kratz said, "We're optimistic it's going to be a healthy number again this year."
There will soon be three new machines at McCann thanks in part to the Governor's Skills Capital Grant. McCann received $150,000 this year from the program Gov. Charlie Baker initiated in 2015. The program is aimed at providing the most up-to-date training equipment to give students an advantage when entering the workforce.
"We want to be up to manufacturing industry standards, especially here in Berkshire County," said Kratz. "It's pretty amazing to see a fifteen or sixteen year old kid running a $100,000 piece of equipment that is the same thing they are using in the real world."
The new machines are a Waterjet Machining Center, CNC (Computer Numeric Control) Plasma Cutting Machine, and CNC Vertical Band Saw. All but the plasma cutter were awarded to the low bidder as Brosnan felt the low bid did not meet the specs the school needed.
When it was noted that there was still some construction going on around the 57-year-old school, Brosnan was quick to say, "We will have everything put back together and shined up" for when the students come back.
McCann starts the 2019-20 school year next week with teachers reporting Monday and students on Thursday.
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Mohawk Trail Woodlands, Forest Service Team Up on Conservation
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
BRPC's Tom Matuszko asks advisory board members to raise their hands as FRCOG's Executive Director Linda Dunlavy waits to speak.
CHARLEMONT, Mass. — A shared stewardship agreement signed Thursday will bring U.S. Forest Service expertise to the state while keeping hundreds of thousands of acres of forestland in state and private hands.
The Mohawk Trail Woodland Partnership encompasses 361,941 acres of state and private land across 21 communities in the northwestern corner of the state. About 28 percent of that land is permanently protected. The partnership will enhance conservation and forest research and provide technical support for businesses that depend on the region's natural resources such as tourism and forestry products.
"I am from this region, it is a part of the state that is near and dear to my heart," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides at the signing held at Berkshire East Mountain Resort. "Something that is a priority to the governor is making sure that this region can continue to have economic security and opportunity for people, but also that connectedness to the landscape and that rootedness in the special places that make up Western Massachusetts."
Theoharides said the state is losing about 65 acres of forestland a day to development — housing, parking lots, and commercial establishments — and it's not coming back.
The Mohawk Trail Woodland Partnership encompasses 361,941 acres of state and private land across 21 communities in the northwestern corner of the state. About 28 percent of that land is permanently protected. click for more
The council put the sale of Sullivan School to the newly organized Berkshire Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center, or BAMTEC, on pause last week even as it approved the sale of two other city properties.
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