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Pittsfield Schools Propose $61.6 Million Fiscal 2019 Budget
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:57AM / Thursday, March 29, 2018
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Superintendent Jason McCandless, Deputy Superintendent Joseph Curtis, and Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Kristen Behnke presented the proposed $61.6 million budget. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The School Committee has put forth a $61,671,338 proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.   The request is a 1.6 percent more than this year's budget for a total increase of $985,000.   Superintendent Jason McCandless said the funding increases achieve three goals: covers contractual obligations relating to salary increases, bolsters the system's therapeutic classrooms, and restores paraprofessionals to the kindergarten classrooms — the last of which

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Gold Medalist Shiffrin Tells Youngsters to Have Ambition, Perseverance
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
04:42PM / Tuesday, March 27, 2018
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Shiffrin was in town to visit her grandmother after winning a seventh career World Cup title.  LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — You could have watched hours of coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics and not gotten an answer to the kind of hard-hitting question asked by Lanesborough Elementary School pupils on Monday afternoon.   "Why do the athletes bite their gold medals?" two-time gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin was asked by one of the youngsters during a schoolwide assembly.   "I don't know," the downhill skier replied. "Isn't that strange? It's not a cookie. Maybe it's to see if it's real gold.   "It

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Williamstown Elementary Sixth-Graders Win Berkshire Robotics Challenge
05:23PM / Saturday, March 24, 2018
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LENOX, Mass. — A team of sixth-graders from Williamstown Elementary School won the 19th annual Berkshire Robotics Challenge at Lenox Memorial Middle and High School on Saturday.

Noelle Dravis, Julia Goh and Grace Winters took turns guiding the team’s Lego robot through seven rounds of competition, capped by a dramatic 110-100 win in the finals over the runner-up from the Berkshire Christian Homeschool group.

Lila Cohen-McFall, Emma Kate Hane and Emma Swoap also participated on the winning team, dubbed WES LegoHeads II, which finished the early rounds of the 17-team competition seeded third among eight squads who moved on to the single-elimination finals.

The contest,

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MCLA President Appointed to Two Local Boards of Directors
01:12PM / Friday, March 23, 2018
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts President James F. Birge has been appointed to the 1Berkshire Board of Directors and the Lever Board of Directors.

His participation on these two boards augments the college's outreach to the greater community as MCLA continues to maintain and expand vital connections throughout the Berkshires.

Birge said he is delighted to join the 1Berkshire and Lever boards as they, along with MCLA, work to elevate economic growth all over the region.

"I look forward to working with 1Berkshire and Lever to gain further insight on how we might best prepare our students to fill positions across the Berkshires," he said.

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New Member Joins MCLA Board of Trustees
02:25PM / Friday, March 16, 2018
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Brenda Burdick, senior manager of marketing and public relations at General Dynamics Mission Systems in Pittsfield, as been named the newest member of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Board of Trustees.

MCLA President James F. Birge said he is pleased to welcome Burdick to the board.

"Brenda Burdick brings more than 25 years of experience in business communications and marketing – as well as public, community, and government relations – to MCLA's Board of Trustees," Birge said. "Through her extensive community service throughout the Berkshires, which includes her work with the Berkshire Compact for Education and as a

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Pittsfield Schools Look To Revamp Therapeutic Program
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:40AM / Friday, March 16, 2018
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — School administrators are looking to revamp the therapeutic program.   The district is expecting to see a $1.1 million increase in state support for education and Superintendent Jason McCandless wants to use a portion of that to bolster the program for those with the most social, emotional, and academic needs at the elementary school level.    "We feel our students in this program are not making the academic gains as they should," Deputy Superintendent Joseph Curtis said.   The district now wants to allocate an additional $385,000 to the program, which will ultimately hire for six new positions. The elementary school program will then

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New Ashford School Committee Wants Another Negotiation on LES Tuition
By Rebecca Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
02:14AM / Thursday, March 15, 2018
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NEW ASHFORD, Mass. — The School Committee on Wednesday night voted to accept a tuition agreement to send its seventh- through 12th-graders to Mount Greylock Regional School but asked its chairwoman and its superintendent to try again to negotiate a lower tuition rate to be able to continue sending its younger students to Lanesborough Elementary School.

The three-person committee agreed to recommend that the town approve at town meeting the increased rate of $14,477 for its middle and high school students, contingent upon some clarifications in the language about special education students and transportation costs.

But after nearly two hours of fielding questions and listening to

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Students in Adams, Pittsfield Memorialize Florida Shooting Victims
By Jack Guerino & Ashlyn Marcil, iBerkshires Staff
08:35PM / Wednesday, March 14, 2018
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Hoosac Valley students wait in the atrium for the National School Walkout. CHESHIRE, Mass. — Nearly 100 students walked out of Hoosac Valley High School on Wednesday morning in the bitter cold to hold a ceremony in remembrance of the 17 killed during last month's school shooting in Parkland, Fla.   "There have been far too many deaths related to gun violence and we are here to demand that something of this magnitude never happens again," organizer Gigi Daley said after she asked her fellow students to gather around her. "Far too many lives have been taken and it is up to our generation to demand change, to make a difference and to make our voices heard.

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Regional Science Fair Draws More Than 60 Budding Scientists
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
04:23PM / Saturday, March 10, 2018
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Jeffrey Thomas of Lever shares his lab experience with the students on Friday. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — More than 60 students took part in the Region 1 High School Science & Engineering Fair held at MCLA and presented their findings to judges.   High school students from Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties gathered in the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts gymnasium Friday to vie for a spot in the state science fair and heard from keynote speaker Jeffrey Thomas, founder and executive director of Lever, a startup incubator.   "STEM was something that you just had to do, and we had to go to science class we had to go to math class," he said.

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Pittsfield Educators Create Non Profit To Support Teaching and Learning
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:17AM / Saturday, March 10, 2018
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The first fundraiser was a wine tasting at the Berkshire Hills Country Club. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — When the school year closed out a few years ago, reading specialist Julie Pellerin-Herrera didn't feel like she was done teaching.   But, there was no funding set aside in the school's budget for ongoing tutoring over the summer.   "It was two and a half years ago, after a year of being a reading specialist and working with small groups, at the end of the year I thought to myself, 'I want to still work with these kids during the summer. I wish we could get organizations to sponsor these kids so we can get reading specialists to tutor them,'"

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