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PITTSFIELD — The U.S. census count will be used to determine how federal funds are allocated locally, and residents only have until the end of the month to make sure they're included in the once-a-decade headcount.

Mayor Linda Tyer during her weekly address urged the nearly one-third of city residents who haven't yet responded to the census to do so before the current deadline on Sept. 30. The city's response rate was at 68.5 percent, just marginally above the state's response rate of 68.4 percent, she said.

"The census is more than just a questionnaire, it allows each of us to be counted and lays the foundation for political representation and access to critical federal funding like the Community Development Block Grant," Tyer said.

If you haven't completed the census yet, head to my2020census.gov to get that completed before the end of the month.

On the coronavirus front, Tyer said Friday the city's positivity rate was at 0.44 percent, which she said is the lowest it's been since the middle of March. But as flu season approaches, Tyer said public health experts are predicting a possible surge in cases, and said residents must continue following preventative health regulations we've all come to know so well — wearing masks while in proximity to others, maintaining at least 6 feet of social distance, avoiding large gatherings, hand-washing and reaching out to your doctor if symptoms arise.

"While it may be tempting to believe that we conquered COVID, we all know better than that," she said. "We cannot let our guard down and reverse course."

On Tuesday, the Tyer Administration will present to the City Council a $8.74 million capital budget borrowing request for nine projects to improve infrastructure, support three community development initiatives and maintain several city and school facilities.

The two big-ticket projects included in the capital borrowing request are $2.5 million for road improvement projects during this fiscal year, which would be spent in combination with the city's allotment of Chapter 90 funding, and $3.3 million for safety and security upgrades at Pittsfield Public Schools facilities.

Students sat down for their first day of distance learning during the fall semester last week. While in the thick of planning for the fall, the School Committee in August decided to hold off on its search for a new superintendent to replace outgoing schools Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless, who as early as November will be departing his post to assume the helm at Mount Greylock Regional School District.

The search process will ramp up at a meeting of the School Committee on Wednesday, when members will receive a presentation from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees about the services it can provide at no cost to help out with the all-important decision of selecting a district leader.

The committee will also weigh in on a new employment contract proposed for Deputy Superintendent Joseph Curtis, whom members selected to serve as interim superintendent when McCandless leaves and before a permanent superintendent is selected.

Amanda Burke can be reached at aburke@berkshireeagle.com, on Twitter @amandaburkec and 413-496-6296.


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