In a letter to the editor, Sharon Gregory writes, “Unification of the two high schools would broaden learning opportunities; streamline required administrative and financial processes; and minimize the effect of antiquated state policies that have resulted in the use of musical chairs (drawing students from other districts), complex “sharing” to address systemic, structural changes in education and demographics shifts.”
The Edge recently sat down with Hinds in his Pittsfield office to discuss his proudest accomplishments, how to align workforce development needs with the education system, and his hopes and concerns about the rollout of recreational marijuana in the state, among other things.
Berkshire Hills School Committee member Rich Dohoney said he is approached by South County residents all the time and the most common question he hears is why Berkshire Hills isn’t trying to merge with Southern Berkshire.
Massachusetts Association of School Committees executive director Glenn Koocher explained that the ability of a school district’s population to fund local education determines how much state aid the district gets from the state.
Officials say the foundation budget is adjusted and increased each year but mostly along the lines of inflation. But several expenses school districts are confronted with increase at a pace that greatly exceeds inflation: health insurance for current employees and retirees; special education, especially out-of-district placements; English language instruction for non-native speakers; preschool; data collection, including how students are counted; and transportation.
Among the issues Amatul-Wadud is raising in her run for Congress are climate change; universal public education; and affordable, high-speed internet access for every resident of the 1st Congressional District.
Monument Next Steps includes 22 members and will be modeled after the Regional Agreement Amendment Committee, which met several times over the course of the last year in a successful effort to change the district agreement’s formula for taxing the district’s member towns to pay for its operations and capital expenses.
“It’s time we start talking with our neighbors. I’m certainly willing to talk to anyone who wants to talk about moving forward with Berkshire Hills or even Farmington River and Richmond.”
— Egremont Selectboard Chairman Bruce Turner
Berkshire Hills Regional School Committee member Richard Dohoney said the school committee should be focusing on a realistic goal such as sharing services or merging with another nearby school district.
In her letter to the editor, Sharon Gregory writes: “Consolidation would enable the larger entity to negotiate for enhanced vocational-technical training programs, enriched academic curricula options, larger state transportation reimbursements and more effective special education.”
“Once we started doing our work, a clear consensus evolved that the one-district option presented the best opportunities for education and improved financial sustainability for the school districts.” –John Hockridge, chair of the Berkshire County Education Task Force
Clearly, consolidation did nothing to control taxes in Great Barrington. And, based on the Egremont In her letter to the editor, Susan Bachelder writes: “Finance Committee’s evaluation of the SBRSD budget, closing the Egremont village school will have no effect at all on SBRSD escalating school taxes either.”
Among the ideas being explored are consolidations of neighboring districts where appropriate, and even the creation of much larger “super regions” that would merge the county’s districts down from the current 19 to three or less.
In her letter to the editor, Sharon Gregory of Great Barrington writes: “Town officials and school committee members should open discussions with other towns in order to create an expanded regional high school district.”