With the state's financial boost, Pittsfield's headmistress seeks to earn an additional $ 3.5 million


By Amanda Drane, The Berkshire Eagle

PITTSFIELD – The state is about to give the city more school repayments than ever before, and the school superintendent, Jason McCandless, said there was only one place where money belongs.

He expects the state to increase Pittsfield's allocation by $ 3.7 million for the next fiscal year.

"For the first time in six years, we are able to invest money in programs, programs," he told members of the school committee on Wednesday.

Two years ago, McCandless was forced to eliminate dozens of positions in a context of city budget restriction. At present, the state is in the process of conducting a public school funding review process that introduces new support for Commonwealth students.

The reductions in previous years came from necessity, said McCandless. But the governor's increase reflects an opportunity to do better by the city's youth, he said.

"It's the budget we need," he said. "It's the budget our kids need."

To reflect this influx, McCandless is proposing more additions than cuts, representing a proposed increase of approximately $ 3.45 million over the current year 's budget for urban schools. . With regard to cuts in his proposed budget, McCandless said he was considering moving these employees to new positions he hoped to add.

The budget is aimed at improving the education of some of the troubled students in the district, especially those attending special education classes.

"We find that it is one of the most difficult of our work," he said.

While he is proud of the work done by the district to open the doors of advanced placement courses to more students, this is not enough. Governor Charlie Baker sets aside this money, acknowledging that "our needs are urgent," said McCandless.

"This budget represents a fight for fairness, equity and justice," he said.

McCandless proposes an increase of $ 276,000 that would allow the district to keep two school nurses at Taconic High School and the Conte Community School, as well as a Senior Assistant for Teaching and Learning at Herberg and Reid Colleges. These four positions were previously covered by grants and should remain in office, he said.

The school committee chair, Kathy Yon, congratulated McCandless for his thoughtful budget that strives to remove the disparities that exist in American society.

"The only place we absolutely can not have is public education," she said.

– A full-time reading teacher for the Read 180 program at Taconic High School. This program aims to help students quickly improve their reading level.

– Five special education coordinators. It is planned to add a permanent special education and accountability coordinator to Crosby Elementary School and Egremont Elementary School, and to divide three more among the other six elementary schools in the district.

– Four interventionist university teachers in some of the city's elementary schools: one at Morningside Community School, Egremont Elementary School, and Williams Elementary School, and split between Capeless and Stearns elementary schools.

– Four paraprofessionals in district primary schools. School principal Jason McCandless said the addition would relieve teachers of lunchtime and recess monitoring tasks by giving them the time of day for collaborative planning.

– Five new teachers at Taconic to fill new programs and increase enrollment. Full-time teachers would specialize in mathematics, electricity, horticulture, preschool and car bodies.

– Two teachers for English learners.

– Two graduate nurses to help the busiest nurses in the district.

– Two auxiliaries to the staff of the intervention centers of colleges Herberg and Reid.

– A consultant to help put in place restorative justice practices This is necessary because "we think the stakes are so important," said McCandless.

– Improvements to safety and security in schools totaling $ 250,000.

– Exploration of the curriculum for $ 250,000.

– A $ 50,000 spending budget for the district's cultural skills coach.

– An intervention teacher for Crosby's therapeutic program.

– A driving teacher for Crosby's therapeutic program.

You can contact Amanda Drane at the following address: adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter and at 413-496-6296.

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