Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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Challenges, opportunities for Berkshire Hills School District

I believe we need to take this opportunity to model for our children -- and each other -- what civil discourse and democracy can look like in small New England communities. 

While the rhetoric on every side of the high school renovation project was less than ideal, recently it’s gotten even worse. We have lots of work to do and we need to keep doing it — we also need to check our rancorous exchanges.

The school project represents a turning point in our community. We collectively have an opportunity to do something great in how we respond, or we can squander that opportunity and continue to do damage.

We live in trying times, with high levels of distrust and an economy that isn’t great. Problems and their solutions are complex, and the best way to work through the challenges is to embrace them together.

Ted and Nancy Sizer, two extraordinary educators, wrote the book, The Students are Watching. I believe they are; every action we take and every word we speak has the potential to make things better or worse. I’m concerned that our passion is closing doors on dialogue as opposed to opening them. I believe we need to take this opportunity to model for our children — and each other — what civil discourse and democracy can look like in small New England communities.

In the coming months we will continue to explore tuition agreements, school budgets, capital planning, graduation requirements and the future of learning and instruction. We will also explore shared services, policies and perhaps revisit the regional agreement. We will look at potential school choice legislation and a wide range of other topics.

In those discussions, let’s all work to take the high road. Let’s commit to realizing that every conversation we have, and everything we write, will have an impact on who we are and who we become. Let’s disagree and debate, and let’s do it in civil ways that work to build solutions we can all live with. Let’s assume positive intentions while we continue the dialogue and take action.

I will do my best to model and support that approach. Our children and communities deserve our best efforts. _____________

Peter Dillon is superintendent of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District.

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