Pittsfield's vocational education director leaving in June


PITTSFIELD -- Frank K. Cote, director of the vocational education in city schools since 2011, will leave in June to become superintendent of a vocational-technical high school in southeastern Massachusetts.

Beginning in July, Cote said, he will lead the Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical school district in Rochester. The district, similar to the McCann Technical High School district in North Adams, serves several towns in its area, which is south of Plymouth and west of Bourne.

The new position will offer Cote his first opportunity to lead a district in a career that begin in 1989. Focused primarily on vocational education, he began as a culinary arts instructor in the former South Berkshire Educational Collabor ative, which coordinated vocational programs for several school districts in South County.

Cote, now the assistant superintendent for vocational programs, said he's enthusiastic about the new post, adding that although he has held administrative positions in Pittsfield, "I've never been the superintendent before."

The job will offer a significantly higher salary, at approximately $130,000, he said. Cote currently earns $87,500.

Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless said last week that he will make a recommendation at a future School Committee meeting on Cote's position, which could be reconfigured. McCandless said he's weighing whether the job should change in light of a planned new or remodeled Taconic High School, which will house all vocational programs.

McCandless praised Cote at the committee meeting for handling a tough, high-profile job over the past three years. Planning for the new high school sputtered at times, especially over the proposed vocational-technical course curriculum that will be offered.

Cote said he heard about the Old Colony superintendent position in January during a regional meeting of the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators, and he learned last month of his selection. He said he now is reviewing details of his three-year contract with the district.

The Old Colony member towns include Rochester, Lakeville, Mattapoisett, Carver and Acushnet, Cote said. Tuition students are accepted from other communities, including Freetown.

There are about 590 students in grades 9 through 12 and two post-graduate grade levels.

Saying he has always had a strong interest in vocational education, Cote said the Old Colony district "is very focused on vocational ed," and there are students today whose fathers or grandfathers also attended.

"I've enjoyed it," he said of his time in Pittsfield. "I have worked with a lot of interesting people, a lot of very dedicated people."

After a series of delays, which he attributed in part to turnover in the superintendent's position, Cote said he believes planning for a new Taconic High "is on the right path now" and should move forward quickly over the summer.

The vocational-technical course lineup was tentatively agreed upon May 14 by the School Committee, and Cote said he believes that will pass muster with the Massachusetts School Building Authority as well.

The MSBA is collaborating with the Pittsfield system on the project, and the state is expected to provide up to 80 percent of funding.

While in the city schools, Cote also served as dean of students and vice principal at Pittsfield High School, before being named to his current post in 2011.

To reach Jim Therrien:
or (413) 496-6247.
On Twitter: @BE_therrien


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