Cariddi Urges Caution on School Regionalization
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — First Berkshire District candidate Gail Cariddi is advocating a go-slow approach to state plans to consolidate small public school districts. The Patrick administration and some in the Legislature are pushing for rural school systems to merge as a way to become more cost-efficient.
"I think we need to be very careful that we don't sacrifice local control and small-town identity for savings which may or may not be there down the road," Cariddi said. Cariddi, who serves as the North Adams City Council's liaison to the School Committee, noted that promises by the state to fully reimburse regional school districts for their transportation costs have never been fully funded even in good economic times.
"There is a pervasive mindset of 'metro-think' among state bureaucrats in Boston who always seem to think that bigger is better," Cariddi said. "The recent experience in the Mohawk Trail Regional District is that voters did not want expansion to include elementary students from Rowe and Hawlemont."
Cariddi, who has pledged to join the Legislature's Regional School Caucus if elected, said there are other ways to cut costs before embarking on a new wave of regionalization. "Many schools are lowering their fixed costs for energy by converting their heating systems over from oil and gas to biomass and some are using wind energy to generate electricity. These initiatives help create clean energy jobs while also shrinking a school's carbon footprint."