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The Selectmen said a second opinion on enrollment projections would be good for the town.

Lanesborough School Member Considering Ending Union 71

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Barton was granted a total of $5,000 in town funds for research regarding the school district.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A School Committee member says the committee is considering pulling out of School Union 71, which it formed with Williamstown.

Chairman Robert Barton asked and received $1,000 from the Board of Selectmen to survey residents about the union. He says the town could save somewhere between $40,000 and $60,000 by opting to leave and signing on with another entity.

"When there is $40,000 to $60,000 on the table, I think it something we have to look at," Barton told the Selectmen on Monday. "It is not just about money either though."

The union was formed in 2008 to share administrative services — including business manager, superintendent and special education coordinator. Lanesborough had dissolved its union with Richmond, New Ashford and Hancock in part because it was shouldering more of the cost. The union joined in an administrative agreement with Mount Greylock Regional School District in 2010; both towns send their students to Mount Greylock.

The Mount Greylock Regional also has been studying the creation of a K-12 school district.

Barton says the school could possibly be better served by joining with another district or union instead.

"This is a big decision for the town but because of the law, it is made just by our three-member board," Barton said.

He will use the town money to mail surveys to residents to gauge their feelings about the district. He said while the school is performing well academically, he believes the town and the school could receive better service with another district. He said he also compared per-student cost of administration to other districts and Lanesborough is paying much more with the union agreement.

Barton has told Mount Greylock officials in the past that the town would consider pulling out of the tri-district altogether — thus avoiding the cost of building or renovating the high school. But, Lanesborough Selectmen were quick to say Barton did not represent the town in saying so.

Barton was also granted an additional $4,000 in town funds to commission a separate enrollment forecast than the one Mount Greylock Regional High School will be doing as part of the school building process.

Barton told the Selectmen that he has seen various projections and they all have drastically different numbers. He is looking to hire a consultant to not only update previous studies but also compare them.

"As you look at these different studies, you will see differences," Barton said.

Selectmen Chairman John Goerlach said that while it appears redundant, those enrollment numbers can make a big difference in the cost to build or renovate the high school.

"I'd like to see a second or third opinion," he said.

Also regarding the school, Lanesborough Youth Basketball President Timothy Sorrell asked the board to support him in an argument with Mount Greylock Regional School officials.

Sorrell said the school is now charging the Greylock Youth Travel Basketball team, which is comprised of Williamstown and Lanesborough students, including those who attend the middle school at Mount Greylock, $800 to use the gym.

"We are trying to level fund and I'm getting hit with a bill of $400," Sorrell told the Selectmen, adding that the money comes out of the budget line for the Lanesborough Recreation Committee, which is is also a member. "I don't understand why we have to pay a fee to use our own school."

Sorrell says he feels the fee is "excessive" because the league uses the gym during the week, cleans up after it leaves and offers a program for students attending there.

He added the football program is also seeing a new fee of $200 to use the practice fields at the school.

The Selectmen approved sending a letter in support of the Sorrell's contention of the fees.

Editor's note: We have changed the headline from "committee" to "member" because it appears Mr. Barton is seeking studies that other committee members say have not been discussed at their meetings.

Tags: elementary schools,   MGRHS,   school district,   school union,   

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