PITTSFIELD — The city Affirmative Action Advisory Committee is refining how it might encourage more minority candidates to apply for city and school system jobs and, given privacy concerns, how best to review progress on that front during the board's quarterly meetings.
The committee also received a briefing Wednesday on the state's Open Meeting Law requirements from City Clerk Jody Phillips, and Chairwoman Mary McGinnis noted that there are vacancies on the committee that need to be filled.
The committee heard a regular report on hiring statistics from city Personnel Director Michael Taylor and received a written report from School Department Human Services Director Harry Hayes, who was on vacation during the school winter break.
Taylor said there were 12 city job openings posted for non-appointed positions from the last committee through Jan. 1, and a total of 75 job-seekers applied. There were eight who identified themselves in the applications as members of a minority.
In all, he said, 60 of the 75 applicants self-identified, which is voluntary on job applications.
As of this week, Taylor said, three of the 12 jobs posted had been filed, none by minority candidates.
Taylor also noted that 26 applicants said they heard of the job through the city's website, 17 from Indeed.com, 13 from other media, social media or career websites, eight from the BerkshireWorks jobs listing, six from BerkshireJobs.com listing and five from word of mouth.
Part of the advisory committee's focus has been to greatly expand the methods of posting city and school positions, sometimes specifically targeting minority applicants, and to otherwise encourage applications from minorities.
Hayes wrote in a brief report that there was little hiring activity in the school district for the period, but there are several current postings. Among those, the job of Crosby Elementary School principal is posted, as Principal Donna Baker plans to retire at the end of the school year.
Other jobs listed on the Pittsfield Public Schools website include three for special education paraprofessionals; dean of students at Allendale Elementary School; varsity boys tennis coach; clerk stenographer; math teacher; art teacher and carpenter instructor.
The committee also discussed a short statement drafted by member Lenny Kates, to be sent to organizations, colleges and other entities with email notifications of job postings. The message states the city's commitment to hiring qualified minority employees. It also urges applicants to self-identify their status, as that helps the city in efforts to track and increase minority recruiting and hiring.
Committee member and City Councilor at large Peter White said he agreed with the sentiment of the message but recommended having the statement review by legal counsel.
He also raised concerns that reviewing hiring reports from personnel departments during committee meetings, which are televised and open to the public, could raise privacy issues if a new hire has not self-identified as a minority. White recommended quarterly reports from the personnel departments that don't list specific jobs that might identify the individual hired, and discussing in executive session further details needed to ensure the goal of increasing minority hiring is being met.
Cecilia Rock told Taylor she hoped to see reports indicating why people had left city jobs, which was discussed at the November meeting. And McGinnis said she would like to know how many hires are lateral moves within city government and the schools and how many are being hired for the first time.
McGinnis also put out a request for interested persons who would like to serve on the advisory committee, saying they should call her at 413-464-2127 for information. Appointments are made by the mayor and there has been an effort to find representatives for the NAACP, the religious community, unions, veterans and several other groups.