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Pittsfield School Committee Reorganizes

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Pittsfield School Committee will see little change in its governance after reorganizing last week. 
 
Superintendent Jason McCandless handed the gavel to Chairwoman Katherine Yon after the committee unanimously voted to re-elect her as chairman.
 
"I am honored you have the faith in my leadership as we work together for the Pittsfield Public Schools," Yon said. 
 
Daniel Elias was elected vice chairman and William Cameron was elected clerk.
 
Yon took a moment to welcome newly elected School Committee members Mark Brazeau and Alison McGee.
 
Yon said Brazeau has three children who went through the school system and is currently continuing his education at Berkshire Community College.
 
"I would like to thank the city of Pittsfield for the opportunity to take on this journey," Brazeau said. "I am looking forward to this, I am excited to be on board, and we are going to get a lot of work done." 
 
Yon introduced McGee who is a special education teacher at Monument Valley Regional Middle School in Great Barrington. She added she was happy to have her experience on the committee.
 
"Thank you to the city of Pittsfield, my colleagues and everyone who has been supportive throughout this process," McGee said. "I am really looking forward to being part of this team."
 
McCandless also welcomed the new members.
 
"To me you join the ranks of one of the most thoughtful and powerful committees that exists in the commonwealth," he said. "Who comes to meetings with the lone agenda lets do great things for kids and let's talk about both good and bad things through honest ways and let's make our community better through education."
 
Yon then recited a list of things the committee had worked on in the past year. She included the increased Chapter 70 education aid the district will receive, a new commitment to alternative education, targeted programming, new policies, and new partnerships. 
 
She went on to mention some upcoming challenges such as closing the teacher salary gap, keeping class sizes small, and providing teachers with relevant professional development.
 
"Nothing that we do is static. This work is constantly evolving all of these incentives and positions must be monitored," she said. "We need to watch closely to see what works and what doesn't. This is how we will make progress.
 
Yon added that they also must address a shrinking student body with changing demographics as well as the best way to configure grades in the district.
 
"This is education in the city of Pittsfield ever moving forward and constantly reflecting on who we are and where we are going," she said. "So let’s dig in." 
 
In his superintendent’s report, McCandless said the district will undergo strategic planning for diversity and inclusion.
 
"We want to keep in mind what really inclusion means as we continue along to move forward," he said. "As a public school system, the key word being public, we serve every school aged child who resides in Pittsfield."
 
Also McCandless asked that parents keep an eye out for the the district’s Panorama survey that should have gone out to families via email.
 
"It helps inform the work that we do and lets us know how we are doing," he said. 
 
He said the survey will tap into the insight of parents, students, and staff.

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Pittsfield Finance Committee Approves Johns Building Supply Expansion

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

William Koziara of Johns Building explains to the subcommittee his plans for expansion. The committee is recommending a tax financing agreement for the project.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The finance subcommittee approved a tax increment financing agreement with Johns Building Supply.
 
The committee voted Thursday to recommend the TIF to the full City Council that would benefit the building supply company as it constructs a 8,000-square-foot retail and office space at 850 Crane Ave.
 
"I will support this local and it is good to see a local business using these programs to get some things done to grow their business," Councilor at Large Earl Persip said. 
 
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