To the editor:
My husband and I tried to attend a meeting held in Egremont on Tuesday, October 10, which was billed as a “Conversation on the Regional School District” hosted by the three Egremont members of the Regional School District Planning Board.
Upon first learning of the school merger issue I was quite undecided. However, after extensive reading, listening, and learning, l have come to the clear conclusion that a YES vote is the right vote for the future of our local community. Nonetheless, I was looking forward to attending the meeting, hopeful to learn more and be better informed on the topic from both sides.
How mistaken I was about the nature of that Egremont meeting. As I entered, I was told by a selectboard member “I know you’ve already made up your mind”. As someone intrigued by the idea of a high school merger, I felt entirely unwelcome. The environment was hostile. My husband and I left part way through.
The following morning, in a disparaging email to the Egremont Neighbors group, that same selectboard member referred to my husband and me as “a young couple new to Egremont” [who didn’t understand proper town etiquette]. I am not new to Egremont. I was born and raised here, I went through both the SBRSD and the BHRSD, and after being gone for about 15 years, I returned in 2021.
Regardless, why would it matter if I’m new or a long-time Egremonter? Shouldn’t we be welcoming newcomers into our community and allowing them an equal voice and opportunity to listen, learn, and ask questions? Isn’t that what we want here in Southern Berkshire, with an aging population and fewer young families?
In fact, a solution proposed by those adamantly opposed to the merger (and disregarding the declining enrollment in SBRSD – a graduating class of 34 at Mt Everett; 126 SBRSD students choiced to BHRSD compared to 42 the other direction) is the hope for an influx of new, young families.
If Tuesday’s meeting is any indication of how the town welcomes new, young families or those with differing viewpoints to our community, then I hope they steer clear.
As a representative of the eight-towns delegation noted (in the very professional, respectful, and informative information session held at Mt. Everett on October 11): We can’t be stuck in the past or even the present. The merger decision can’t be about emotions, egos, or nostalgia. This is about the future of those children who aren’t even here yet — the young and the new.
I encourage any who are undecided, or simply looking for more information, to check out 8towns.org.
And no matter what your view, please get out and vote. Your vote and your voice matter!
Taylor Linscott Lamme