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PPS Considering MASC For Superintendent Search

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The School Committee will review its options for the upcoming superintendent search but is leaning toward using the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. 
The committee heard from MASC Executive Director Glenn Koocher last week who outlined the free technical service offered to member districts undergoing a superintendent search.
"I think we have been served well by them over the years," Chairwoman Katherine Yon said. "... We have paid over the years to get other services, and I think they can do it as well as anybody."
Current Superintendent Jason McCandless was hired away by the Mount Greylock Regional School District and is seeing out the remainder of his contract.  
Koocher said many districts are capable of running these search processes by themselves and MASC member districts have been able to successfully find superintendents using the free technical service.
He said MASC can assist in setting up community focus groups as well as a search committee, posting the position and collecting resumes. He said they are a telephone call away and are available for in-person consultation.
A consultant service is available for an extra fee (around $10,500). There are other groups that offer consulting services, and the price varies, he said.  
Committee member William Cameron noted that the district, Mount Greylock, hired an "outstanding" new superintendent and asked if it had used a consultant or MASC.
Koocher said Mount Greylock used the free technical assistance and attracted a solid group of candidates from outside of the county. 
"There is a fabulous quality of life here in Berkshire County that is a terrific asset to which people aspire," he said. "People are going to find Pittsfield regardless of who you have assisting you."
Mayor Linda Tyer said she wanted to undergo a "robust" search process and asked what services would come with the extra fee. She specifically wished for MASC to facilitate focus meetings as an independent third party.
Koocher said the fee would allow this greater access but noted with COVID-19 much of what MASC would do would be through Zoom. 
Committee member Daniel Elias said if the district is unable to hold these in-person meetings there may not be a need for these additional services.
"We are in these COVID times so a lot of these things may not be practical anyways," he said.
Koocher added that the free service is pretty substantial.
"I just want you to understand you are a chartered member of MASC, and you have been paying us dues for almost 75 years," he said. "So it is not like this is a bargain-basement offer to you. Your investment allows you to access member services."
Koocher said he was not prepared to give the "sales presentation" but would send along what additional services the district would receive if it opted into the consultant service. He said this would be a decision for another day.
Committee member Mark Brazeau said he watched the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee meetings leading up to the hiring of McCandless and was impressed by what MASC offered.
"The process you guys go through and what you do is great," Brazeau said. "It was very out there and nothing was hidden. That was all done on a free service. I think this can be done without spending the money."
Yon said the school system has paid a consultant before and noted she thought it cost upwards of $20,000.
The School Committee did ask for a list of other consultants to consider as well as what services it would get for that additional $10,500.
In other business, McCandless said the district continues to distribute Chromebooks and mobile hotspots to ensure that all students have a computer and an internet connection to accommodate remote learning.
The district has handed out more than 5,000 Chromebooks and 112 hotspots and has requests for 710 hotspots.
Another 320 hotspots are ready to go and 700 cellular-enabled Chromebooks on their way, he said. 

Tags: search committee,   superintendent,   

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Mayor Tyer Reviving 'At Home in Pittsfield' Program

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — More than a year after it was rejected by the City Council, Mayor Linda Tyer has revived her At Home housing renovation program.
The initiative was referred on Tuesday to the subcommittee of Economic and Community Development. Tyer is asking for appropriation of $500,000 from the Pittsfield Economic Development Fund for the residential Exterior Home Improvement Loan Program.
The mayor pitched this program in February 2019 to help eligible residents improve their homes. This program would will provide zero-interest loans to residents for undertaking certain home improvement projects in an effort to improve the housing stock in the city.
Tyer originally asked for $250,000 from the General Electric account to kickstart the program so that homeowners could then get loans of up to 10 percent of the appraised value after renovations or a maximum of $20,000.
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