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Superintendent Barbara Malkas and Mayor Jennifer Macksey pose with Brooke Bishop, center, this year's recipient of the Superintendent's Certificate of Academic Excellence.
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Brooke Bishop's family was in attendance.
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The School Committee for this term ends Jan 1. They are Alyssa Tomkowicz, left, David Sookey, Karen Bond, Emily Daunais, Macksey, Tara Jacobs and Richard Alcombright. All will be returning except for Bond, who did not run for re-election.

North Adams School Committee Says Hello, Goodbye and Congratulations

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Carson Rylander, left, and Jacob Gladu, far right, join the committee on Tuesday evening as student representatives.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The last School Committee meeting of the year on Tuesday was full of hellos, goodbyes and congratulations. 
Incoming member Cody Chamberlain was in attendance, student representatives Carson Rylander and Jacob Gladu joined the committee and Karen Bond, whose term is ending, was bid farewell. 
The congratulations were largely for Drury High senior Brooke Bishop, who was awarded the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents Certificate of Academic Excellence. 
The daughter of Krista and Lee Bishop of the town of Florida was chosen, said Superintendent Barbara Malkas, for her leadership, activities and her pursuit of academic excellence. 
"I'd really like to thank the Bishop family for coming here this evening and supporting Brooke throughout her educational career," said Malkas.
Bishop's been captain of the soccer, basketball and softball teams as well as playing on the travel and Amateur Athletic Union teams. She's been class president for the past three years, a student ambassador, peer mediator and editor of the yearbook.
Malkas also noted that she's been inducted into the two honor societies — Nu Sigma and Pro Merito — and received the Saint Michael's Book Award and the Principal's Award for being in the top five in her class since freshman year. 
"She has taken a full honors and Advanced Placement course load and has taken advantage of several college courses at MCLA through our Early College Program," said the superintendent. "Brooke will attend Saint Michael's College in the fall, majoring in biochemistry and hopes to pursue a career as an orthopedic surgeon."
The Bishops posed for photographs and then headed to Drury for Brooke to make Bucky Bullett Basketball Jamboree. 
Rylander and Gladu, president and member of the Student Council respectively, were introduced to the committee by Mayor Jennifer Macksey. 
They are both baseball players and eager to taken on leadership roles on the athletic field, in the school and in community service. 
Gladu said he sees his role as connecting teammates in a productive manner to succeed and to ensure all voices are heard; Rylander said community is important in giving people a sense of belonging and that he will make sure everyone feels like they are part of the school. 
Bond is completing her second four-year term on the committee after deciding not to run for re-election. She's served with three mayors and two superintendents, and on several subcommittees as well as being secretary. 
Bond had said she hoped to bring "a parent's voice to the table and an advocate" when re-elected in 2019, said Macksey. 
"She has succeeded in her mission and has brought so much more to the committee especially during the COVID pandemic, providing a knowledgeable point of view based on her everyday experience [Bond is director of laboratory services at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center]," said the mayor. "It is with heartfelt thank you and I wish Karen all the best and I thank her for her commitment and contributions to the students and families. We will miss you."
"I will miss you all, too," said Bond. 
Chamberlain will be sworn in on Jan. 1. The mayor thanked him for attending. "We all look forward to working with you," she said. 
In other business, Drury Principal Stephanie Kopala said 13 of the school's 52 seniors had been named John and Abigail Adams Scholarship recipients. If they attend a state school, they receive from $2,960 to $5,300 toward student charges.
Kopala, who was attending virtually, also had Annie Pecor hand out patches designed by the project-based learning Game of Life class. The students have been learning things such as first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, financial literacy, cyber security and interview skills. 
 "So they're very excited about this opportunity, and we wanted to share that with you," the principal said. 
The committee accepted donations of $150 and $250 from David and Diane Blair and Kyle and Rebecca King, respectively, for additional instruments for the elementary music program and $4,800 from the ABC Clothing Sale toward literacy efforts, including allowing the children to select their own books. 
• The superintendent and mayor also gave a brief update on the Greylock/Brayton School Project, which will be going before the full Massachusetts School Building Authority Board on Dec. 13. 
Malkas told the committee that their presentation to the Facilities Assessment Subcommittee last month went well. "Our education plan was very well received to the point that it was recommended that it be used as a model for other districts who are going through the process," she said. 
Macksey concurred, saying the subcommittee had been quite critical of the presentations that proceeded them. 
"And then we gave our presentation ... and it was a much different conversation," she said. "So I want to make sure to applaud the leadership team and our designers and architects and all the work that the School Building Committee because we really keyed ourselves up for success."

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How can women bridge the retirement gap?

Submitted by Edward Jones

March 8 is International Women's Day, a day for celebrating all the accomplishments of women around the globe. But many women still need to make up ground in one key area: retirement security.

Women's challenges in achieving a secure retirement are due to several factors, including these:

  • Pay gap – It's smaller than it once was, but a wage gap still exists between men and women. In fact, women earn, on average, about 82 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the Census Bureau. And even though this gap narrows considerably at higher educational levels, it's still a source of concern. Women who earn less than men will likely contribute less to 401(k) plans and will ultimately see smaller Social Security checks.
  • Longer lives – At age 65, women live, on average, about 20 more years, compared to almost 17 for men, according to the Social Security Administration. Those extra years mean extra expenses. 
  • Caregiving responsibilities – Traditionally, women have done much of the caregiving for young children and older parents. And while this caregiving is done with love, it also comes with financial sacrifice. Consider this: The average employment-related costs for mothers providing unpaid care is nearly $300,000 over a lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — which translates to a reduction of 15 percent of lifetime earnings. Furthermore, time away from the workforce results in fewer contributions to 401(k) and other employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Ultimately, these issues can leave women with a retirement security deficit. Here are some moves that can help close this gap:

  • Contribute as much as possible to retirement plans. Try to contribute as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Your earnings can grow tax deferred and your contributions can lower your taxable income. (With a Roth 401(k), contributions aren't deductible, but earnings and withdrawals are tax free, provided you meet certain conditions.) At a minimum, contribute enough to earn your employer's matching contribution, if one is offered, and try to boost your contributions whenever your salary goes up. If you don't have access to a 401(k), but you have earned income, you can contribute to an IRA. Even if you don't have earned income, but you have a spouse who does, you might be eligible to contribute to a spousal IRA.
  • Maximize Social Security benefits. You can start taking Social Security at 62, but your monthly checks will be much bigger if you can afford to wait until your full retirement age, which will be around 66½. If you are married, you may want to coordinate your benefits with those of your spouse — in some cases, it makes sense for the spouse with the lower benefits to claim first, based on their earnings record, and apply for spousal benefits later, when the spouse with higher benefits begins to collect.
  • Build an emergency fund. Try to build an emergency fund containing up to six months' worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid account. Having this fund available will help protect you from having to dip into your retirement accounts for large, unexpected costs, such as a major home or car repair.

It's unfortunate, but women still must travel a more difficult road than men to reach retirement security. But making the right moves can help ease the journey.


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