Wednesday March 14, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Starting tonight, the School Committee turns back the clock on its meeting start time in an effort to end the sessions sooner.

Last month, the seven-member committee unanimously agreed to move the regular Wednesday gatherings in Pittsfield High School’s library from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. The time change was for the benefit of children, parents, teachers and others who are in attendance for what are often three-hour meetings.

Committee chairman Alfred E. "Alf" Barbalunga says, so far, there’s been no resistance to the new meeting time.

"I haven’t heard one negative thing about it," he said. "I think this will end up being a good thing."

The 6 p.m. start could pay immediate dividends because Barbalunga expects a lively -- and likely lengthy -- discussion on the latest in the committee’s search for a new school superintendent.

Today at 5 p.m. is the deadline for applications to the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, which is assisting the Pittsfield School Committee in its search for a new superintendent.

This evening, the board will learn how many people applied for the job and review the proposed salary range for the successor to Superintendent Howard "Jake" Eberwein" III.

Currently Eberwein earns $125,000, an annual salary that has remained unchanged since he was hired nearly four years ago. Eberwein has refused to take a pay hike in an effort to keep education costs in check.

The Dalton resident an nounced two months ago he was stepping down from the post on June 30.

The committee will also discuss a modified timeline to complete the search, a public survey seeking input on the type of superintendent residents want, and the composition of the superintendent search committee.

Whoever becomes the new superintendent will oversee Berkshire County’s largest school district -- with 6,132 students as of Oct. 1 -- and the third-largest employer with nearly 1,200 teachers, administrators and support staff.

The next schools chief will replace Eberwein, 46, who began his 17-year career in the Pittsfield Public Schools. He started as a chemistry teacher at Taconic High School, rising through the ranks to become superintendent in July 2008.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.