Vol. III No. 07 4/1/2022
From the Desk of Superintendent Peter Dillon
Berkshire Hills Regional School District (BHRSD)
As you may have heard or read, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) invited Monument Mountain Regional High School into their eligibility period. This is a huge deal and minor miracle as they only approved 17 schools and rejected 42. This is an important first step in deciding what we need to do to improve our high school. Over the next year, we will form a building committee and do a feasibility study to pick a preferred option. There are really three choices: 1) a new building, 2) a renovation and addition, and 3) a renovation.
Since our last vote in 2014 which passed is Stockbridge and West Stockbridge but failed in Great Barrington, quite a lot has changed. We redid our Regional Agreement particularly the capital assessment formula. We have refined and continue to refine our educational plan including expanding our vocational programs (6 proposed). We are about to retire existing debt on elementary and middle schools. We have seen shifts in voters and the assessed value of each community. And, we have committed to stronger outreach and communication.
Three weeks ago, the School Committee voted to support $1.5 million for feasibility study. I have spoken to the West Stockbridge and Great Barrington Select Boards and they have put the borrowing on their annual meeting town warrants and also recommended it. I will do the same in Stockbridge next week. I am doing the same with the three town's Finance Committees. Steps after that include the School Committee appointing a building committee and several meetings to follow the MSBA process and listen to and engage our communities. Ideally, we will build momentum to set up another, hopefully successful, vote.
One other matter is coming up which is connected to the work of the Regional School District Planning Board. It's around to enrollment projections. Are we building a high school for our three towns with an enrollment of roughly 550 students or are we building a high school for 8 towns with a combined enrollment of 700 or so students? It looks like we will keep both options open as the parallel discussions and processes around potential consolidation unfold.
As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions — Peter.Dillon@bhrsd.org
Next issue, I will share some detailed updates on the Regional Scholl District Planning Board (RSDPB) and its work and process. Take a look at their website and the detailed reports and summaries. Please also consider attending any of the meetings.
Downed tree destroys playground equipment. Photo: Patrick White