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.
Berkshire Hills voted unanimously to appoint two subcommittees. The first will focus on the nuts and bolts of a potential consolidation. On the recommendation of the Southern Berkshire school committee, a second subcommittee would focus on the educational aspect of the potential consolidation.
The Berkshire Hills Regional School Committee voted unanimously to send a letter to Southern Berkshire and its five member towns asking to establish a planning group to explore consolidation for grades 9-12
Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, has announced that he has been appointed to co-chair the Special Commission on Improving Efficiencies in Student Transportation by Senate President Karen E. Spilka, D-Ashland.
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.”
“Good for Berkshire Hills. If at the end of the day it takes five, fifteen, maybe twenty years, what education will look like in south Berkshire County is that Berkshire Hills will be the mothership.” — State Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli
“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.”