PITTSFIELD — In a recent debate focused on the city's schools, mayoral candidates Peter Marchetti and John Krol critiqued areas where they say school administrators exercise too much power — to the detriment of staff retention and students' experiences in the classroom.
We asked Pittsfield mayoral candidates John Krol and Peter Marchetti: How do you plan to address deferred maintenance issues
photo credit MEG BRITTON-MEHLISCH — THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
During a question session with members of the local teachers union, the United Educators of Pittsfield, Marchetti and Krol said they want to reshape the relationship between the Pittsfield Public School District’s administration, staff and elected officials.
The Thursday night event at the Pittsfield High School library covered a range of topics from the state of school buildings, how to establish equity among students of different backgrounds, bad in-class behavior, discipline and school choice.
Krol, who is married to a local elementary school teacher, said he feels educators in Pittsfield are being pigeonholed into a “script” that doesn’t allow them to express their creativity and passion for education.
He said that restrictions around how teachers can and can’t teach is part of what’s driving city teachers to other districts where they have more instructional freedom.
The root problem, Krol said, is that teachers are being told to focus on teaching math and reading in a specific way in order to raise the district’s Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test scores. He said that’s the reason he supports calls to remove the MCAS tests from the state’s graduation requirements.
“I feel as though teachers are hamstrung to a large extent [by] the Pittsfield Public Schools,” Krol said. “Too much they’re being told to follow the script — teachers didn’t start in this profession to follow a script.”
Marchetti said he’d see school administrators serve as less of a filter between city decisionmakers and those working directly in classrooms. As mayor he’d look to take a stronger role on school committee and district decisions.
“Your next mayor gets to set policy and tone of how the administration is going to work through the school committee,” Marchetti said. He said he’s looking to empower the other members of the committee to take a stronger role in guiding the district forward.
“It needs to start with the school committee saying the buck stops here and the school committee needs to be sending directives to the [school] administration, rather than the administration sending directives to the school committee,” Marchetti added.
Marchetti said if he’s elected mayor he’ll be looking to speak more often and more directly with staff in their classrooms to hear about their needs than he will with district administrators.
Both mayoral candidates said they’ll be looking to increase the resources available to teachers — including higher pay and additional funds for classroom materials. Krol said he’d do this through reevaluating the number of administrative positions in the school budget and Marchetti said he’d do this by reprioritizing future school budgets to focus more resources on these areas.
Meg Britton-Mehlisch can be reached at email@example.com or 413-496-6149.