Berkshire Hills Regional School District awarded competitive state grant
Great Barrington — Berkshire Hills Regional School District has been awarded a highly competitive state grant in the amount of $50,000 that will expand its pilot work with Resource Allocation and District Action Reports. Led by new director of learning and teaching Kristi Farina, the grant will support building inclusive practices and student achievement and growth. The collaborative effort will help the district study academic return on investment and develop and share tools to study the impact of how it uses its resources. The award represents a continuation of BHRSD’s re-imagination work, the efforts of the school committee’s finance subcommittee and the conversations among faculty, parents and school councils.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education recently announced $529,100 in federally funded competitive grants that will help 20 districts including the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District, North Adams Public Schools and North Berkshire School Union:
- Examine and question resource allocation in more depth, using data available in districts along with tools provided by ESE, particularly the new RADAR;
- Make meaningful changes in resource allocation to support best practices and district improvement strategies; and
- Measure the impact of resource shifts on the desired outcomes. Districts awarded grants will be paired with an action research consultant who will help gather data, measure impact and report results.
With funds from a federal Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems grant, ESE has awarded nine grants for proposals to implement specific reallocations of resources toward district priorities by identifying areas where resource use is less efficient and effective. By working closely with these districts over the next two years, ESE will gain a greater understanding of how to support all districts in using resources effectively.
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Chang-Chavkin Scholars program to assist Berkshire County high school students
Williamstown — An innovative college scholarship program for low-income Berkshire County high school students who will be the first in their family to attend college was announced Dec. 5.
The Chang-Chavkin Scholars program was named after benefactors Laura Chang and Arnie Chavkin, who have been part-time Berkshire residents for more than 30 years.
“While there are many programs focusing on low-income, first-generation students in urban areas, very few programs focus on rural students,” said Chavkin. “We’re committed to opening doors for those who are underrepresented in higher education, and who often don’t complete that education.”
Each Chang-Chavkin Scholar will receive up to $15,000 per year for four years toward the cost of attending an accredited U.S. college or university. The program will also advise and support recipients throughout their time in college to increase their chances of earning diplomas. It will also help guide scholars and their families through the process of applying to colleges, selecting among admission offers and navigating financial aid awards.
In its first year, the program will partner with Drury High School, Wahconah Regional High School and Monument Mountain Regional High School to identify junior- and senior-class students as candidates for the scholarship. The program expects to name four or five juniors each year as Chang-Chavkin Scholars. Over time, the program will expand to other rural school districts in Berkshire County.
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Massachusetts Nonprofit Network urges Neal to protect Johnson Amendment
Boston — The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network sent a letter Monday to Rep. Richard Neal expressing opposition to Section 5201 in the House of Representatives’ version of the federal tax reform bill, a provision that would radically change the longstanding protection known as the Johnson Amendment.
Section 5201 would significantly weaken the Johnson Amendment, a section in the U.S. Tax Code that prohibits nonprofits from endorsing or raising money for political candidates. The letter urges Neal, who was recently appointed to the conference committee tasked with reconciling the House and Senate versions of the tax bill, to work with his fellow conferees to ensure that the provision is stricken from any final version of the bill.
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Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont announces new CEO
Pittsfield — Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont has announced that David Twiggs has succeeded Frank Engels as its next president and CEO. The transition became effective Jan. 1.
Twiggs, a Lenox resident, had most recently served as Goodwill’s chief operating officer. He joined the organization in 2012 and has served in other senior management roles at Goodwill, including as director of logistics. Before joining Goodwill, Twiggs served as director of operations at Macy’s. Prior to that, he served on Target’s executive retail team and as district manager for Perry Ellis stores. In addition to his career in the retail industry, Twiggs worked with youth in special education programs for more than a decade. Twiggs currently serves on the Massachusetts Alliance of Commissions on Disability, the Pittsfield Commission on Disabilities, as an ombudsman for the executive office of Elder Services of Berkshire County Inc., and as a volunteer at the Berkshire Immigrant Center.
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Tunnel City Coffee opens new roastery
North Adams — Tunnel City Coffee has found a new home for its roasting operation in the newly renovated Norad Mill. The new location, which is fully operational as of last week, will provide more room for Tunnel City to roast its specialty coffees as well as space marketing, human resources and professional development offices.
Along with moving its roastery to the Norad Mill, Tunnel City’s recent expansion includes opening its third cafe, Uptown Tunnel, inside in the Williams College bookstore in Williamstown. Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, Tunnel City’s reach now extends to three stores in Williamstown and North Adams.
“Our new space at the Norad Mill will become Tunnel City’s primary location for teaching staff about alternative brewing methods, coffee production and espresso techniques,” said Tunnel City Coffee owner Paul Lovegreen.
The oldest industrial mill in North Adams, Norad employed several thousand people in the late 1800s and was operated by the Adams Woolen Company and Crane Company, among others.