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Pittsfield Decides Taconic Vocational Status Next Week

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Is Taconic a traditional high school or a vocational one? The School Committee will decide next week.

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, the committee will determine a proposal to start the school's transition to a solely vocational institution
 
If approved, Taconic will only accept Career Technical Education (CTE) students in the fall of 2023 and, by the fall of 2027, will be all vocational. 
 
All non-CTE students would attend Pittsfield High School regardless of the middle school they went to. 
 
This conversation started around two years and an official recommendation was made last year. It is fueled by a growing demand for vocational education at Taconic that is outnumbering non-CTE students. 
 
It's not unexpected -- the school had been hoping for this since the $120 million facility was unveiled in 2018.
 
Over the past four years, Taconic has increased its vocational enrollment by more than 300, with almost 600 CTE students and around 200 non-CTE for this school year. 
 
Intradistrict transfers were eliminated in the last school year and enrollments soared, though it did not eliminate the space issue that led to this proposal.
 
Traditionally, students who went to Herberg Middle School moved on to PHS and those from Reid Middle School went to Taconic. 
 
With one all-vocational high school, students will go to their designated middle schools and then be directed to one of the high schools based on their desired educational path.
 
District leaders have said that this will allow PHS students to have more scheduling choices and will free up more CTE slots at Taconic. 
 
Preliminary conversations about the change involved debunking myths about vocational education and broadening post-high school options for students. 
 
Administrators highlighted the value of a CTE in education, as it can provide academic knowledge and real-world skills and can easily translate into the job market. 
 
It was reported that 100 percent of 2020 and 2021 CTE graduates entered employment, advanced training, the military, or college. These outcomes were vetted by U.S. Department of Labor wage records and higher education admissions data.
 
In November 2022, Superintendent Joseph Curtis said that there has not been an abundance of feedback about the possible change despite having several community outreach events, a couple of radio shows, and discussions in public meetings. 

Tags: Taconic High,   vocational program,   

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Owner of Abandoned Cats Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A woman accused of abandoning more than a dozen cats during snowstorm a year ago has pleaded guilty. 
 
Kelly Hathaway of Pittsfield pleaded guilty on Friday to two counts of animal cruelty in Central Berkshire District Court as part of a plea agreement. Following the plea agreement, she was ordered to have a mental health evaluation and follow any after care as instructed by the court.
 
She was placed on two years probation and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service. She is not allowed to possess any animals and was ordered to surrender any she has in her care. She is also prohibited from volunteering with any animal groups.
 
Hathaway and another defendant were charged last March with abandoning 15 cats on back roads in Richmond and Lanesborough after an investigation by Lanesborough Police, Lanesborough Animal Control and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
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