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McCann Superintendent James Brosnan, left, explained to the Board of Selectmen the various costs associated with joining the vocational school district. Overall, Brosnan says the town will save about $30,000 next year if voters approve the move.

Lanesborough Weighs Costs Of Joining McCann Tech

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Town officials are trying to wrap their head around how joining the Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School District will save money for both them and the current member towns.

Town officials were initially worried about the impact after reading McCann Technical School's pitches to existing members, when McCann administrators said capital costs would be shifting to Lanesborough and Cheshire. However, the Board of Selectmen did not consider the transportation and per-pupil costs and state Chapter 70 funds that will lower their total assessments.

A town committee studied the financial impact and will recommend the passing of a warrant article at the annual town meeting to join the school district. On Monday night, Superintendent James Brosnan met with the Selectmen to explain the costs.

For the seven current communities, savings will be seen by shifting about $20,000 in capital costs to Lanesborough and Cheshire if they decide to join, according to Brosnan, but Lanesborough will see an even greater savings in costs. The district itself will be absorbing a $40,000 decrease in tuition revenues.

"It's approximately a $30,000 savings [for Lanesborough]," Brosnan said after the meeting when asked what the bottom line would be.

Lanesborough would see its biggest savings in transportation. According to a simulation Brosnan presented the Board of Selectmen on Monday night, that cost will decrease by about $30,000.

Overall the town is currently paying about $240,000 to send 15 students to McCann and six to Taconic High School in Pittsfield, based on the 2012 tuition rate and number of students. If the town had belonged to the school district this year, it would have paid about $201,000 to send all of its students to McCann. How much that would be in 2013 is not yet known because the rates aren't set yet.

The capital assessment was listed as "to be determined" in the simulation but Brosnan said it would be about $11,000; added to the $201,000, the total assessment would have been $212,000 for fiscal 2012.

The remainder of the bond costs for a recent renovation would be split between nine towns instead of the current seven but there are no more major renovations on the horizon, Bronan said.

"We've done an awful lot of work at the school," Brosnan told the Board of Selectmen. "We have a 50-year-old facility in superb condition."

For the school district, Brosnan said he sees great possibility in the future by including Lanesborough and Cheshire. The school will be able to gain additional students, have greater pull in state funding and grants as well as provide greater stability and predictability in enrollment.

Nineteen students are expected to attend McCann next year and Brosnan believes that with the transportation changes, even more would go to McCann — thus lowering the amount Lanesborough pays to transport students to Taconic.

"I am very optimistic that it will be a greater savings than you see here," Brosnan said.

Town officials voiced concern over a lack of control over the McCann budget. The town would elect a school committee member who would have a weighted vote based on population. However, McCann has historically assessed the towns at the state-mandated minimum said Brosnan and that is not expected to change.

"We lose a little bit of control but if he keeps it at the minimum, we don't lose any control," interim Town Administrator Joseph Kellogg said.

Tags: McCann,   regionalization,   vocational program,   

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