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The Ordinances and Rules Committee approves an Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, a reclassification of the director of building maintenance and the addition of a business manager for public services.

Pittsfield Panel Endorses Creation of Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Ordinances and Rules Committee on Monday voted to establish the new Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion.

In early June, the City Council approved a $179 million budget for the fiscal 2022 that included a six-month, $99,760 budget for the new office.

The panel approved two positions within the department: a director of diversity, equity, and inclusion and an administrative coordinator.

All of the members present thanked Director of Human Resources Michael Taylor for his and the city's efforts to create this department and highlighted the need for it.

Councilor at Large Earl Persip III and Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey were absent from the meeting.

The chief diversity officer will lead the department while the administrative coordinator acts as support staff. 

The lead position will be on an M7 pay scale and was budgeted for $51,610 and the administrative coordinator was budgeted for $18,250.  

Taylor reported that this department was a core recommendation from Mayor Linda Tyer's DEI study group, which was tasked with providing her with recommendations for advancing the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the local government.

He said this important work is not getting the level of attention it needs without an entity dedicated to it.  Taylor added that DEI efforts are a natural part of Human Resources and he will be collaborating with the department.

Councilor at Large Peter White, who is chairman of the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, said this department will be a great partner to the advisory panel.

"As a member of the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, we're very much looking forward to being able to work with a person at this level, office at this level is able to meet the goals set out in the affirmative action plan that the city adopted," he said.

"And especially the office should be integral in helping the committee move forward and also the city move forward with the initiatives, and with the meeting the goals of having a more diverse city staff."



White said that from his observation on the council and in his history of following city politics, he thinks the city is more diverse and has more equity and inclusion built-in than ever.

Taylor confirmed that the position will also spill over into the schooling aspect of the city, which Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio was pleased to hear.

"I think this is a great idea," Maffuccio said. "I can't wait for this office to open up to see what other improvements are seeing needs to be done on both school and city side."

Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo asked Taylor about the timeline that is in mind to fill these positions and get the department running.  

The city is hoping to have the positions filled in January though Taylor acknowledged that recruitment is difficult at this time.  

"I'm trying to remain optimistic that once we establish, should we be successful and establish this office and the positions to staff, that we can get right to work in advertising the position aggressively," he said. "I imagine that the study group that was put together before to do all of this work will also serve as a recruitment body to help us do some of that outreach and recruitment of the positions."

This will go back to the City Council likely for its next meeting.

In other news, the subcommittee approved a reclassification of the director of building maintenance's position because the work has increased and become more complicated. 

The position also previously had an assistant, which has been eliminated from the last few budget seasons and has made more work fall on the director of maintenance.

It also approved a business manager position in the Public Services Department that will be paid a salary of $40,000. 

The position was debated during budget season and Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales said it has been further developed in terms of responsibilities and duties while still maintaining the original intent. 


Tags: diversity,   ordinance & rules ,   personnel,   

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Pittsfield School Committee OKs Comfort Dog Pilot Program

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The School Committee has approved a comfort dog pilot program to support the well-being of students.
 
Through a partnership between Berkshire Poodles, Berkshire Dogs Unleashed, and the district, one to three dogs will be deployed to select schools by springtime. If that goes well, there is a possibility to have a four-legged friend in every school.
 
The district's Health and Safety Coordinator Eric Lamoureaux and owner of both businesses Lee Kohlenberger presented a program overview to the committee on Wednesday.
 
Molly the poodle joined them to vouch for the importance of pups in schools. She didn't have to do much persuading, as the proposal was approved unanimously.
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