|Pittsfield Council Vexed by Refusal to Explain Lost School Grant|
|By Joe Durwin, Pittsfield Correspondent|
04:53PM / Wednesday, December 12, 2012
City councilors were frustrated Tuesday that school and union officials couldn't team up for a $20 million grant but could agree not to speak to them.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Members of the City Council expressed frustration and disappointment Tuesday at an invitation declined by the School Department and leading teachers union to appear before them to account for the controversial failure to apply for a $20 million Race To The Top grant for which the city was eligible.
The opposing views on why the grant was not applied has so far been debated publicly only in the form of published letters in The Berkshire Eagle from both the United Educators of Pittsfield and interim Superintendent Gordon Noseworthy, prompting Ward 6 Councilor John Krol to put forth a petition asking that both sides appear before the council to further clarify the subject. The petition was approved unanimously by the council in November.
In a joint letter responding to the council's request, the administration and UEP thanked the council for the invitation but opted not to accept it.
"The School Committee and the United Educators of Pittsfield respectfully decline your offer as we view the topic as closed and we need to move on and deal with the issues and challenges facing us," said the letter.
"I'm extremely disappointed," said Krol, in response to the rebuff by the two groups.
"It wasn't that long ago that, only a couple of meetings ago, that they did make that appearance when they wanted their raises," Krol continued. "But when they dropped the ball on $20 million that could have benefited our children and our taxpayers, they have chosen to be absent."
Several councilors echoed frustration with the refusal, indicating that this was a matter on which they'd heard from many constituents seeking answers.
"I think that everyone in the city is deserving of that information," said Councilor Christopher Connell. "Just to decide not to appear... personally, I'm a little offended."
The dispute between school officials and teachers resulted from tight time frames and failed collaboration, according to the lengthy letters each sent to The Eagle.
Noseworthy claimed there was a tight turnaround in getting the 195-page grant written and approved. The teachers, he said, would not collaborate. "Instead of offers of how we could work together there were excuses framed around the fixed timeline," he wr