Our opinion: Grant topic isn't closed

Thursday December 20, 2012

Pittsfield School Superintendent Gordon Noseworthy and the United Educators of Pittsfield may view the failure of the school district to apply for a federal Race to the Top grant of as much as $20 million as old news but Pittsfield taxpayers should not. Without an explanation of what led to this failure and assurances that measures have been taken to prevent it from occurring again, this subject should remain wide open.

The dispute played out on the editorial pages of The Eagle on November 10, with Mr. Noseworthy asserting in a column that the UEP dragged its feet and put obstacles in the path of the application and the UEP claiming in an ad that it rejected the application because it had legitimate concerns and not enough time to address them. The City Council unanimously supported an invitation extended by Ward 6 Councilor John Krol to the superintendent and union officials to come before the council to discuss the application failure, but Mr. Noseworthy and UEP President Gail Yates put aside their differences to decline the invitation, observing in a statement that "we view the topic as closed."

The proposed meeting was to be informational, not a grilling, but if the superintendent and union head were concerned that they would face angry councilors they have created a self-fulfilling prophesy should they ever come before them. Councilors were clearly and justifiably angered last Tuesday by the rejection, and it is worth noting that the Council approves the school budget. Unhappy parents and taxpayers should not consider "the topic as closed" until assurances are given that the school department and teachers can work together in the best interests of students.


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