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Pittsfield Schools to Begin Non-Renewal Recalls

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Pittsfield Public Schools will begin recalling staff given non-renewal notices now that a budget is in place. 
Superintendent Jason McCandless told the School Committee last week that there will be recalls of some of the 140 nonrenewal notices sent out prior to the passage of the $64 million budget.
"We will let them know their jobs are back and we look forward to having them with us," McCandless said.
Without a firm Chapter 70 education aid number to build a budget around, the city passed an education budget that relied on at least level state aid.
This version of the budget equates to the minimal loss of actual jobs, however, without being able to say for sure what Chapter 70 will be, the district released 140 nonrenewal notices in preparation for a possible 10 percent reduction in aid — a more than worst-case scenario.
"We still don't know what our Chapter 70 numbers are going to be and I don't feel at this point that we have anybody really willing to go on the record and say there aren't going to cuts," the superintendent said. "We released more notices than we can actually afford to be without to be able to run school in person in the fall."
In other business, Chairwoman Katherine Yon announced that the committee plans to discuss the two high school mascots at the August meeting.
"We have been getting correspondence from people in the community," she said. "They have been coming in a long time and I think it is at least time that we take a look at these things."
The Taconic Braves mascot and the Pittsfield High Generals mascot have been a frequent subject during public comment.
Before launching into business, the School Committee took a moment to remember former member Carmen Massimiano Jr.
"He certainly was a strong advocate for public education," Yon said.
Massimiano, who died recently at the age of 75, was a past chairman of the School Committee and served as Berkshire County sheriff for 32 years.
"I will say not once, not one single time, did I not see him advocate for what he thought was the right thing to do for kids," School Committee member Daniel Elias said. 
Committee member William Cameron said the district underwent multiple school renovations while Massimiano was chairman.
"He certainly played a leadership role in that as well as everything else that was mentioned," he said. "He certainly was a significant figure for the public schools for many years."
McCandless added that he served on the Taconic School Building Committee and was an asset during the entire process. 

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Pittsfield City Council Rejects Petition to Remove Connell

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council denied a petition aimed to remove Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell by claiming he no longer lived in Pittsfield.
Late into the six-hour meeting Tuesday, councilors came to the agreement that although Connell is spending much of his time quarantining out of state, his primary residence is still in Pittsfield.  
"I just want to thank you all for your kind support and thought and I will continue to do the best that I can for this council and this city," Connell said at the meeting's close around 1 in the morning. 
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