Vol. IV No. 13 7/1/2023
8 Town Regional School District Planning Board Update
by Lucy Prashker, Chair of the 8 Town Regional School District Planning Board and Jake Eberwein, RSDPB Project Manager
Merger Model under Consideration: Merge the Berkshire Hills and Southern Berkshire Regional School Districts into a single preK-12 district, maintaining the existing elementary and middle schools as they are, but creating a new merged 9-12 high school to be built on the Great Barrington campus.
Board approves finance subcommittee recommendation on assessment methodologies: On June 6, 2023, the 8 Town Board approved the assessment methodologies for the operating and capital costs of a merged district.
A presentation on the operating and capital cost assessment methodologies, including projections on total assessments (which include the estimated cost of the new high school and all legacy debt) is available HERE, with a video recording HERE.
Educational Quality subcommittee votes to recommend merger: On June 14, 2023, a majority of the educational quality subcommittee voted to recommend merger to the full board based on the subcommittee's development of a list of the potential benefits of a larger student body and pooling of district resources. That list included — larger, more diverse student body allowing for more opportunity for social connections, additional resources to support diverse student learners, more academic choices for students, including more electives, AP classes, and early college courses, and more opportunities to achieve optimized class size, more extracurricular activities, including more and better access (including district-funded transportation) to sports, clubs, and civic engagement opportunities, significantly expanded vocational-technical offerings, including innovative pathways and up to six-Chapter 74 career vocational-technical (CVTE) programs, and larger, more diverse professional staff, increased salaries for SBRSD teachers, expansion of early college and Advanced Placement opportunities, and expanded early childhood opportunities.
Updated Timeline: Our targeted date for a board vote on the proposed merger, including a proposed regional agreement, is now late June/early July. If the board votes to recommend a merger, we expect to be able to put that recommendation before the voters at special town meetings this fall.
Dogs of Stockbridge. Photo: Blue Moon Images/Dana Goedewaagen