To the Editor:
We moved to the Berkshires eight years ago. At the time of our move, our children were seven, five, and one. Needless to say, we had many years of schooling ahead of us. Before we started looking at houses to buy, we took four trips to the area to tour the local schools to decide which district was the right fit. Our decision to lay down roots in South County was in large part due to the new regional school facilities at Muddy Brook and Monument Valley. While we were hearing minor gripes associated with initial problems due to the consolidation of several schools, what we did see was potential. We saw a district that was not afraid to invest in students, able to build in an environmentally responsible way, and able to plan for the future. We knew Monument Mountain High School was in need of repair, but for us, that reality was years away. That time is now.
The high school renovation plan is coming to a vote on November 4th.
That vote comes after six years of hard work, hundreds of meetings, and thousands of hours of volunteer efforts from school administrators, state experts, and parents and taxpayers from our community. It is also a plan that involves $24 million in funding from the state, a financial situation that might never be replicated should we let this opportunity pass.
In the recent months, many people have suggested alternate plans.
Skeptics have disputed published costs and projections and challenged reports of the dire condition of the school. I implore people to go to the high school and take a tour. There is magic happening in the halls and classrooms but the same cannot be said about the facilities. You will quickly realize that “doing nothing” is not an option.
At the end of the day we are not talking about extravagant spending to overbuild a fancy school. We are talking about making serious and significant upgrades to a school and education system that has served our community well and is now showing its age.
Eight years later, with a daughter fully engaged at the high school, it has become all too real that repairs need to be made and they are going to cost us, the taxpayers, no matter the outcome of the vote. With a comprehensive, well thought-out plan, and a huge financial contribution from the state, that time is now. It is an expensive plan, but it is also an investment. It’s an investment in our children. As homeowners, it is an investment in our property values; as residents of this amazing community, it is an important investment in the future of Berkshire County.
I’m not expecting to change everyone’s mind with a simple letter to the editor. However I hope I can change a few. All I ask from the residents of Great Barrington, Stockbridge, and West Stockbridge is to vote on November 4th. For more information on the project, visit www.monumentmatters.org. Tell your friends to vote. Tell your family to vote. Vote for Monument, for the future of our schools, and for our children.