Hoosac Valley School District Enrollment Increases Slightly

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — For the first time in several years, enrollment at the Hoosac Valley Regional School District has increased. 

Total enrollment for the district is 1,027, a 10-student overall increase over last year. The most significant increases came in Grade 1, which went up 30 students; Grade 3, which grew by 26 students; and Grade 9, which increased by 25.  
 
"I think there's some starts of encouraging trends that we hope to continue," said Superintendent Aaron Dean, who updated the School Committee on the numbers at Monday's meeting. "We're working hard to try to be a match for students in our community and improve our programs."
 
Dean said a lot of work is going into retention and getting the school more integrated into the community. 
 
"We are a resource for the community," he said. "We are the hope for a lot of our young people. So it's the most important work. It's the hardest work that I see, right now, with everything that's going on in the world. So it's important for us to really look at ways we can connect with the community and change things."
 
Dean also presented the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests and accountability data for the district, saying the district had typical growth across all subject areas. He noted that students had not taken a full testing regiment since 2019 because of the pandemic. 
 
"A lot of the work we're doing and have started and are digging deeper into really does align with the needs," Dean said. "I think we've done a really solid job of looking at our local data, past MCAS past data and other data points to build plans that address the areas that need discussion."
 
One area he said the school is focusing on is dealing with absenteeism, with 13 percent of the district's students missing 20 percent or more of school days. He said numerous issues, including absences caused by COVID-19, impacted this, and the district is working to bring up attendance numbers.
 
Committee member Michael Henault asked about the possibility of an intermediate school for the middle-grade levels. Dean said it is something that is actively being discussed and looked at.  
 
"I'm not sure about the structures we currently have in place ... there will be a research base behind that decision. We're not just going to do it because it feels good," he said. 

Tags: enrollment,   HVRSD,   

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North County Communities Close to Hiring Shared HR Director

By Brian Rhodes

ADAMS, Mass. — The town is close to picking a candidate for a grant-funded human resources director, which will split time between Adams, North Adams and Williamstown. 

 

The Board of Selectmen's Personnel Sub-committee met on Monday to discuss the position and several other personnel matters. In March, the three communities received a $100,000 grant from the state's Community Compact Cabinet Efficiency and Regionalization program to fund the position

 

Town Administrator Jay Green said two candidates were interviewed for the job, with expectations to make a formal offer to one of them soon, pending final approval from officials in North Adams. 

 

"It's going to be a large undertaking for whoever is in the job. But I think, at the end of the day, we will provide the communities with somebody paying attention to this stuff," Green said. "... I think a lot of the retention and recruitment issues; all three communities have those issues. So all three communities are looking forward to having the person to be able to work on that." 

 

Green said each of the three communities has specific needs that a human resources director will provide. For Adams, he explained that keeping the town's human resources policies up to date is a significant need. 

 

"This person will work for us directly, and they will be a resource for us," Green said. The three communities, he explained, have to keep the position funded until at least Fiscal Year 2024. 

 

In other business, the group discussed preliminary job descriptions for an assistant Treasurer/Collector and assistant Town Accountant. These positions would replace the current financial assistant titles and would be a title and job description change rather than a personnel change. 

 

"We have too many high-level people doing too low-level work because we're not staffed enough in that level," Green said, noting the town expects the title changes to be ready to begin the next fiscal year. "A lot of those positions have been eliminated over the years. The work doesn't go away, but the work just gets kicked up." 

 

Town Accountant Crystal Wojcik said the new titles would allow the people in those positions to have more training opportunities and take on more responsibilities for the town. One example she gave is a conference from the state's Municipal Accountants and Auditors Association, which Financial Assistant Ashley Satko cannot currently attend. 

 

"I can go to that, but Ashley can't because her title is not Assistant Town Accountant," she said. "You either have to be a Town Accountant or an Assistant Town Accountant. I believe the same rules go for the treasurer's association." 

 

Another new position the group discussed was assistant director of Community Development. Rebecca Furgeson, the current program manager for the department, would take on the new role. 

 

"[Rebecca] has a very unique skill set with project management that I can't replicate. And she has capacity to take on additional work," said Community Development Director Eammon Coughlin. "We've had incredibly good luck with grants over the past year. I think we've gotten basically everything we've apply for it, and so there's a need to have a good set of eyes and sound judgment in terms of managing those projects." 

 

The committee also discussed the part-time administrative assistant for Inspectional Services. Green said he is hopeful the position could eventually become full-time, but budget considerations do not currently allow it.  

 

  • The committee discussed a potential code of conduct for town employees and others involved in town business. Board Vice-chair Christine Hoyt said she researched conduct policies for other communities and wants to do more work to update those policies in Adams. 

 

"I'd like to explore this more and come forward with a code of conduct that is all-encompassing," she said. "... We hold our employees to a standard, but we haven't necessarily put a standard of conduct in place for elected officials for the public." 

 

Green said the current provisions for the town only apply to town employees, not elected or other officials.

 

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