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Pittsfield School Officials Approve Further Budget Cuts
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:47AM / Thursday, April 27, 2017
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The proposed school budget has been cut again, raising the number of layoffs to 75.6 full-time equivalent positions. However, the teachers' union is foregoing some $300,000 worth of raises to save some of those jobs.   On Wednesday, the School Committee adopted a proposed budget of $60,686,338, with the city's share of that being $60,066,338. That is $250,000 less than what was presented at the budget hearing two weeks ago.   "We understand we have to do this because we understand the situation we are in," Superintendent Jason McCandless said.    McCandless said two days after the public hearing on April 12, in a meeting with

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Pittsfield Council Asked To Push For State Education Funding Changes
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
02:21AM / Wednesday, April 26, 2017
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — How the state calculates what it costs to run a school system is much different from what local officials say it actually costs.   That was the message delivered to the City Council on Tuesday night when the School Committee arranged a presentation from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. MASC Field Director Tracy Novick urged the council to advocate for changes to the state funding formulas to bring more state dollars into the city.    "The commonwealth of Massachusetts is not doing its fair share in making sure our children are having the best education," Council Vice President John Krol, an avid supporter of the

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BCC Students to be Inducted Into National Honor Society
01:42PM / Monday, April 24, 2017
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. mdash; Berkshire Community College will hold an induction ceremony for students joining the Xi Alpha Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa on Thursday, April 27, at 12:30 p.m. in the Boland Theatre of the Koussevitzky Arts Center on the college's main campus in Pittsfield.

Phi Theta Kappa is the national honor society of junior and community colleges in the United States. The purpose of the society is to recognize and encourage scholarship among students.

To be eligible for membership, students with freshman standing (12 to 29 credits) must have achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.8 or better. Students with a sophomore standing (30 or more credits) must have

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MCLA Makes It Official With Inauguration of President Birge
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
08:33PM / Friday, April 21, 2017
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Birge takes the oath of his office from Susan Gold, chairman of the board of trustees. See more photos here. NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — James F. "Jamie" Birge hadn't intended to become a college president.    After interviewing dozens of presidents of colleges large and small, private and public, for his dissertation in leadership studies, he came away with the impression it was too difficult, too demanding and fraught with financial pressures.   "Why would anyone want to do that job?" he joked on Friday afternoon as he gave his inaugural address as the 12th president of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. "After finishing my dissertation

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United Way Program to Provide Kindergarteners With Supplies
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
01:24PM / Thursday, April 20, 2017
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Gary Levante is co-chairing the day of caring this year.  PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Every child entering kindergarten next year will have a backpack full of supplies.   Berkshire Bank employees will be filling 1,200 backpacks with books, supplies, reading lists, and informational fliers as part of the Berkshire United Way's day of caring. The literacy kits will be given out at locations throughout Berkshire County on June 21 at a series of "pop-up parties."   "Each kindergarten party will have a variety of family friend activities. There is going to be food and fun and all types of good stuff," said Berkshire United Way CEO Kristine Hazzard

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World War 2 Veteran Shares His Story With Reid Students
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:47AM / Monday, April 17, 2017
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It was like pins and needles.   That's what Bill Weigle, a World War II pilot, told the Reid Middle School eighth-grade class of his flights during the war. He never knew when or if a German fighter would appear near him and shoot him down.   "I did not come here to tell you I'm a hero because I'm not. But we were on pins and needles the whole time," Weigle said.   Weigle was alive on Thursday to share his story with the class and credited that to the education and training he received. He stressed the importance of education to the students, multiple times telling them that if he didn't have the training he had, he would

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BCC Phi Theta Kappa Scholars Honored at State House Ceremony
09:55PM / Thursday, April 13, 2017
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BOSTON, Mass. ─ Two Berkshire Community College students were honored by the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office at a ceremony at the Massachusetts State House on March  30.

Cheryl Bassett and Mary Mick were among a small group of scholars honored as the highest academic achievers of the community colleges system and were presented with medallions and certificates for being named to Phi Theta Kappa’s All-Massachusetts Academic Team.

Every year, MCCEO hosts this event at the State House in Boston to showcase the best and brightest of the 15 college system. The event is co-sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for community colleges, the

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Pittsfield Residents Oppose School Budget Cuts at Public Hearing
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
03:59AM / Thursday, April 13, 2017
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Ava Mungin got roaring applause for her comments in defense of the work the paraprofessionals do for the students. PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Ava Mungin is who children come to when they need help.   When they are hungry, they go to Mungin. When they are sick, they go to Mungin. When they want to get off drugs, they go to Mungin.    "I've given them hope I've given them a sense of self-worth and confidence.I do this every day," Mungin said.   She is a special education paraprofessional at Pittsfield High School and most recently she's been working with a student who can't speak, but is able to walk and use crosswalks because of

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Haas Foundation Grants 10K For Manufacturing Scholarships at Taconic
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
04:37PM / Wednesday, April 12, 2017
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Taconic High School manufacturing students will now have an easier time pursuing careers thanks to the Gene Haas Foundation.   The Haas Foundation is granting the program $10,000 to provide scholarships to graduates. The foundation was started with a $20 million donation by the owner of Haas Automation, a company that builds manufacturing machines.   "We make anything that makes something else. If it cuts metal, wood, plastic, glass, ceramic, our machines can handle it. Our machines are used very widely in the workforce, which is perfect for schools. It gives schools the ability to teach what an actual shop environment is," said sales advocate

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Education Task Force Seeks Community Input, Aspirations
02:39PM / Monday, April 10, 2017
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshire County Education Task Force is seeking input as it develops recommendations for county schools.    Five "community aspiration" meetings are scheduled this month for parents, educators and community members to share expectations, aspirations, and concerns for the future of preK-12 public education in Berkshire County.   The first session is this Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Church Street Center.   Despite having high-quality educators, say task force officials, the educational opportunities available to children and young people in Berkshire County are threatened by the region's

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