Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter School has a busy summer slated

Monday June 24, 2013

ADAMS -- Today may be the last official day of classes at Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School, but it does not mean the school’s taking a break.

On its itinerary: Training a new principal, welcoming new trustees, hosting a fundraiser, constructing a new science lab and launching a full-time program for English language learners (ELL).

Earlier this week, BART announced teacher April West as its new principal. She will succeed current principal Ben Klompus, who is leaving to pursue a doctorate degree in education at Harvard University.

The school also named four new members to its board of trustees: Joan Jones, William Mulholland, Frederick Puddester and Geraldine Shen.

"We’re at the end of year nine of operating the school, and have had great success with Mr. Klompus’ leadership," said Julia Bowen, the school’s executive director.

"This spring, as we thought about our next phase of development, we were able to think about what do we want in out next leader," Bowen said.

She said West became the "clear choice" out of 50 resumes received for the job.

West and Klompus will work together between now and August to make the leadership transition.

Bowen said the addition of the four new trustees expands the BART board to 12 members. The new members each come with a background in working at college -- a boon as the school continues to strive toward preparing all its students to be college-ready.

Jones has worked as the volunteer coordinator for the America Reads program at Williams College, volunteers with several Northern Berkshire community organizations and has served on BART’s Charter and Accountability Committee.

Mulholland is the vice president of community education and workforce development at Berkshire Community College, and serves on several other Berkshire County boards.

Puddester is vice president for finance and administration and treasurer for Williams College and is a member of BART’s Finance Committee, among other committees in the region and related to his field.

Shen is a senior development officer for Williams College and has been a member of BART’s Development Committee.

The charter school is currently working on new development strategies to fund new initiatives and projects, like this summer’s science lab construction. The lab will be outfitted to accommodate chemistry, biology and other science experiments previously conducted outside of the school building, due to the fact the school didn’t have an adequate and secured lab space.

BART will host a private benefit on June 29 to celebrate supporter Bo Peabody, a venture capitalist and entrepreneur who lives part-time in Williamstown and New York City. The school’s development coordinator, Leah Thompson, said events like this can help raise awareness about the school and its mission as it continues to grow.

Halfway through the current school year, BART successfully expanded its charter to include Pittsfield. This year, the school enrolled 300 students. Its charter now allows it to enroll up to 360 students. Bowen said there are about 42 students currently on the school’s waitllist.

BART employs 54 staff and faculty members. With the expanded charter, BART is also looking to expand the capacity and training of its staff.

For example, its current part-time teacher for English Language Learners (ELL) students, will take on the position full-time this fall, as the school anticipates serving more students in need of ELL services. It will be the first time BART will run a comprehensive ELL program.


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