To the Editor:
There is an amendment to the Berkshire Hills Regional School District (BHRSD) agreement that is being put forth for a vote at the Monday March 15th Annual Stockbridge Town Meeting which is asking Stockbridge to accept a much larger portion of the BHRSD Capital Budget. Great Barrington feels they are paying too much in spite of the fact that they have the majority of the students enrolled in the school system.
The proposed amendment to the existing agreement between the three towns of Great Barrington, Stockbridge, and West Stockbridge would place an unfair financial burden on Stockbridge as we have far fewer students enrolled than Great Barrington. The proposal is based upon Stockbridge’s perceived financial position. I would point out that with an aging population living on fixed incomes, and facing major infrastructure and building projects, Stockbridge cannot afford this added financial responsibility.
The real issue is reimbursement by the State of Massachusetts for the students who choice into the school system. This payment needs to reflect the real cost of educating the student in today’s dollars. The effort needs to be placed here as well as the number of school districts Berkshire County supports.
As an aside, I believe many years ago Lenox asked to join BHRSD and Great Barrington voted the proposal down, with Stockbridge and West Stockbridge voting yes. This certainly would have helped with the current financial situation.
I will vote no on Monday’s proposed amendment, and I hope the majority of Stockbridge voters do as well. This vote is not about education per se, but about the intent of the original BHRSD agreement, and the correct formula of who should pay based upon enrollment.
The writer is chairman of the Stockbridge Planning Board and Board of Assessors.