News Briefs: Berkshire County Education Task Force; Williams College seeking homes for weatherization

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By Saturday, Oct 10 News

Berkshire County Education Task Force

Berkshire County — In Berkshire County public school districts are faced with a general overall decline in student enrollment, rising operational costs (i.e., benefits, special education, technology), declining/flat revenues leading to additional financial burdens to towns and municipalities, and reductions in the diversity and range of educational programs available to students in response to rising costs that are outpacing state aid and local contributions.

The Berkshire County Education Task Force is an advisory committee including representatives from all districts and towns and composed of 20-plus superintendents, school committee members, elected officials, and business leaders operating with support from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. The task force has been meeting every three weeks to develop and recommend solutions that address the problem statement and specifically:

  • Improve access, diversity, breadth, and quality of educational programs for children county-wide so they are fully prepared for college, career, and life here in the Berkshires;
  • Create economies of scale (financial savings) through new collaborations, technologies, partnerships, and regional agreements between towns/cities and districts;
  • Advance new investments in collaborative solutions (i.e., expanded pre-K programming and special education services) that improve educational services and opportunities for children county-wide;
  • Maintain and honor the unique identity of each Berkshire community, ensuring citizens remain fully connected and engaged with their schools;
  • Reflect age-appropriate social and learning practices such as transportation/travel time and the number of school/grade transitions.

The task force has divided into three subcommittees: Capital Inventory, chaired by E. Gibson; Fiscal Factors, chaired by C. Ketchen; and Communication, chaired by A. Wadsworth. Each subcommittee is gathering information and producing reports or products to advance the task force’s efforts.

For additional information contact John Hockridge at jhockridge@gmail.com

–E.E.

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Williams College seeking homes for Winter Blitz weatherization

Williamstown — Williams College’s Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives is seeking homeowners in northern Berkshire County, as well as Pownal and Bennington in Vermont, who would like their homes weatherized for the upcoming winter. The weatherization efforts will take place on Saturday, November 7, during the college’s eighth annual Winter Blitz day. Homeowners who are seeking to lower their energy costs or who cannot weatherize themselves are encouraged to participate.

During Winter Blitz, teams of students go out and prepare homes for winter weather by installing storm windows, door sweeps, and energy-efficient light bulbs. Trained student leaders lead teams and all materials are paid for by the Zilkha Center.

If you are interested in having your home weatherized with Winter Blitz and saving money on your energy bill, call (413) 547-1787 or send an email to williamswinterblitz@gmail.com before November 1. The program is accepting homes in Williamstown, North Adams, Adams, and northern Lanesboro in Berkshire County and Pownal and Bennington in Vermont.

–E.E.


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