Forming a new or combined district, as both have indicated a willingness to explore, could take a minimum of two to three years. In addition, there would need to be a transition period of several months to a year.
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.
State Rep. William ‘Smitty’ Pignatelli also urged the task force to increase the breadth of its representation: “We don’t need retired school superintendents making decisions about schools and towns … It’s time for new faces, and we need to engage everyone.”
“There is no financially sustainable model for schools anywhere in Berkshire County right now. With less than 3,500 high school students in all Berkshire County, the way the lines are drawn now, doesn’t make sense. If you don’t change, someone will make the change for you — in this case it’s the state.”