2019-2020 School Year

The Pittsfield School District wishes all our Pittsfield students and families all the best for a wonderful new school year of learning.  It’s hard to beat the excitement and anticipation of the first day of school, but our wish for all is that we can hold on to the positivity of that first morning.

Here are the top 16 news headlines from our Pittsfield schools:

•  Administrator Absence.  Unfortunately, our director of college and career readiness, Ms. Melissa Brown, is on a long-term medical leave; however, we’re fortunate to have Ms. Tobi Chassie, our recently retired director of student services, fill in part-time during Ms. Brown’s absence.

•  Advisories.  Our Good to Great Team conducted an audit on our PMHS advisory program last year and presented its recommendations to the Pittsfield School Board in August; we’ll be working on program upgrades throughout the course of this year.

•  Choose Love.  Our School Board has adopted the Choose Love program to be integrated in all grades this year; Choose Love “teaches the foundational concepts and skills of social and emotional learning and is informed by current brain research and neuroscience; for more info: www.jesselewischooselove.org.

•  Curriculum Updates / Upgrades.  Our teachers will continue to utilize Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as we update and upgrade our curriculum at all grade levels this year and next; UDL “is an educational framework based on research in the learning sciences… that guides the development of flexible learning environments that can accommodate individual learning differences.”

•  Executive Functioning.  Our multi-year commitment to executive functioning support for all students continues this year; executive functioning involves strengthening “mental processes that enable us all to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully.”

•  Fund Balance – 2018-2019 School Year.  The district closed the 2018-2019 school year with a budget fund balance of about $80,000; this represents about $.30/thousand on the Pittsfield tax rate.

•  LEAD.  Thanks to the efforts of community members – most notably Ms. Tracy Huyck, Mr. Ted Mitchell, and Police Chief Joe Collins – the Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD) program will be piloted in two PES grades and in our PMHS middle school grades; LEAD seeks to create “safer, healthier communities free of drugs, bullying, and violence;” this project is supported by the Granite United Way and is likely to expand next year.

•  LETRS.  Our primary grades students will benefit from the LETRS this year; this teacher training “provides educators with the background, depth of knowledge, and tools to reach language and literacy skills to every student.”

•  NEASC.  Pittsfield High School has been accredited by our regional accreditation agency – the New England Association of Schools and Colleges – continuously since 1955; accreditation takes place in ten-year cycles; for this cycle – beginning at this time and culminating in an accreditation visit in March 2022 – the district will seek district-wide accreditation for the first time; we’ll devote a good deal of our staff time to this project this year and will be reaching out to students and parents for critical input and support.

•  New Staff.  As always, we welcome a group of new staff members to the district this year; we have every reason to believe that we’ve been successful in recruiting well-prepared, positive, professional folks who will bring a broad range of experiences to their work with our students in 2019-2020.

•  Opening of School.  Our school opening for the 2019-2020 school year has been most positive this year; we’re now in our first full week of school and have suffered very few hiccoughs to our smooth, upbeat opening of school.

•  Seventh Grade and Freshman Seminars.  PMHS will be implementing a seventh grade seminar and upgrading our freshman seminar this year; these seminars are intended to support student success as they engage with the new school experiences of middle school and high school.

•  Social Worker.  Thanks to the Foss Family Foundation and a private benefactor, the district will be recruiting and employing a full-time social worker beginning later this fall; the Foundation’s contribution is a multi-year project in support of student and family success and well-being.

•  Student-Led Conferences.  PES will be implementing student-led conferences this spring, and PMHS will be upgrading student-led conferences with a focus on differentiating the conference experiences of the various ages of students.

•  Trauma-Informed Practices.  The district will be continuing our work with trauma-informed practices, which support the preparation of the adults in the school community to recognize and respond to students who have been impacted by traumatic stress, which can severely impact ability to learn.

•  Wood Shop and Head Start.  Sadly, the PMHS wood shop has been closed due to budgetary constraints; in its absence, the district will be welcoming the Pittsfield Head Start program in the space formerly occupied by the wood shop; among other benefits, this will result in increased revenues for the district.