CHESHIRE, Mass. — Hoosac Valley High Principal Colleen Byrd has an objective for this school year: getting freshman on the path to future careers.
"One of the goals in my sit is getting 100 percent of ninth graders will be enrolled in a pathway by the end of the year," she told the School Committee on Monday.
Hoosac Valley was designated by the state as an Innovation Career Pathway school earlier this year, joining Mount Everett Regional School and Monument Mountain Regional High School.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will be providing resources for pathways development.
"We're effectively creating the winds of change in this district as I speak," said Superintendent Aaron Dean. "We've taken a lot of steps, a lot of shifts in the positive direction and, this year, I feel like the year where a lot of these things finally will come together."
Pathways are designed to provide students with coursework and experiences such as internships to prepare them to enter their field of interest after graduation or to continue on to a higher degree. The goals are to produce lifelong learners, critical thinkers and global citizens.
Byrd said many of the courses overlap in the pathways (or are required for graduation) so students who may change their minds partway through high school should have credits that can be transferred.
"These skills are not just something that we do in high school. This is something that we're expanding all the way down to our preK programming and really looking at how do we make these connections and how do we build new skills for our students as they graduate," said Superintendent Aaron Dean.
Byrd said the middle school is already teeing up with incoming eighth graders being counseled and "exposed to the pathways through similar vantage points as ninth graders."
Hoosac is certified for two pathways so far — environmental and life sciences and health care and social assistance — but is preparing seven total pathways.
That's led to a somewhat cryptic billboard on Route 8 advertising the high school's new program with just graphic symbols. School Committee members asked if it was effective without words.
"Our whole point was to put it out there we are a pathway high school, and drive traffic to our site," Dean said, adding that it was the recommendation of the marketers. "Over time, I think we can do more spotlights."
He couldn't speak to how much traffic it had driven yet but said it has generated a lot of questions.
The school's been seeking a direction of this sort for some years.
"We're finally getting our identity, our niche, our place in Northern Berkshire," said Dean.
In other business:
• The School Committee ratified a new three-year contract with the teachers union. The contract includes a negotiated restructuring to accommodate the new pathways curriculum in the first year and then 3 percent raises in each of the next two years. The old contract expired at the end of June.
• Dean reported that 25 new teachers attended orientation; there is now a total of 105 in the district. He said they had a varied background and "seem very excited about the pieces that we're working on, Project Lead the Way, pathways programming in general."
• The School Committee voted to award the roofing contract for the middle and high school gyms to Triumph Roofing Inc. of Baldwin, which had the low bid of $784,000. Of the seven bids, the highest was $1,257,880 by Reliable Roofing & Sheet Metal LLC.
The funding will come out of the district's federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. The roof comes with a 30-year warranty and construction starts Oct. 1 and should be completed by the end of the month.
• The committee also voted on the use of Yondr pouches for cell phones, authorized account transfers to close out the fiscal 2023 year and briefly touched on the superintendent evaluation process.
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Miss Adams Diner Auctioned Off for $80,000
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
Personnel from the Sheriff's Department prepare to auction off the diner to pay delinquent debts.
ADAMS, Mass. — Miss Adams Diner once again has changed hands, this time to its former owner's largest creditor.
David Atwell purchased the property at a sheriff's auction on Wednesday afternoon for $80,000 against the only other bidder, Mark Lapier.
Peter Oleskiewicz had purchased the landmark eatery in September 2020 but didn't open it for more than a year. He closed it in March this year, saying it wasn't generating enough revenue to continue. It was seized June 8 to pay off creditors related to his other business, Desperados.
According to documents in Northern Berkshire District Court, Oleskiewicz owes Atwell a total of $168,338.05 for the now closed Mexican restaurant in North Adams and the state of Massachusetts $59,062 in sales taxes.
Bidders had to have $10,000 in cash or bank check to participate; the winner is required to pay the balance within 45 days or the sale would go to the next highest bidder.
Atwell said he had no immediate plans for the Park Street diner but wanted to assure he would get some return.
"I had $170,000 worth of debt on it. So I wasn't gonna let it go for ... you know," he said with a shrug after the auction. "If we had gotten a bit closer, I would have let it go but I wasn't going to take a haircut at 50 percent. It's too much money."
The Cook Street park began construction last week, a public information session on the reconstruction of Park Street is set for Wednesday at 5:30 at Town Hall and the town is participating in a regional digital equity planning process with its first meeting in October.
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