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Lanesborough Examining High School Options

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
03:30AM / Tuesday, March 11, 2014
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The Selectmen set a March 27 meeting to discuss the future of Mount Greylock Regional High School.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — As the feasibility study to renovate or build a new high school is set to be voted on at town meeting, officials want to know Hancock, New Ashford and Richmond's intentions.

The Board of Selectmen will hold a meeting later this month to discuss the various parts of a new or renovation project.

One of those parts would be if Hancock, New Ashford and Richmond wants to join the Mount Greylock Regional School District, offset some of the cost, or continue with the tuition agreement.

"We're looking at this as a business," said Town Administrator Paul Sieloff on Monday. "You just can't look at this as a day-to-day decision."

The three towns tuition their students into the high school at a reduced cost. But, with Lanesborough (and Williamstown) paying a share of the renovation, the town hopes that the administration will raise those fees. Or, Sieloff said, the towns can join and have a say in future.

Sieloff said he'd like those towns to take a nonbinding vote on their opinions on the school district. If those towns are not interested in joining the district, it will review enrollment numbers and give the administration a reason the tuition fees could go up. If they join, they would share in the cost of building or renovating the high school. Sieloff said there are multiple benefits to joining the district

"Let them make that decision," Sieloff said. "If they thought their payments would be higher, then maybe they'll join the district."

Lanesborough also wants to look at other options that could lower cost, including whether both Grades 7 and 8 should continue going to Mount Greylock's middle school.

Keeping the seventh-graders at Lanesborough Elementary School, for example, could lower the high school's enrollment, thus allowing the new school to be built smaller.

Enrollment has been a bigger question for town officials when discussing the new or renovated school. Town officials cite Berkshire Regional Planning Commission studies and an updated one they paid for a revision to as showing significant different projections than the state. (A similar conversation occurred with Mount Greylock officials at the Williamstown Selectmen meeting Monday night.)

"The MSBA said they will build that school at 15 percent bigger than we need to give us a cushion. We don't think we need a cushion, we're going the other way," Sieloff said.

According to Robert Barton, who sits on a town educational issues committee as well as the Lanesborough School Committee, said the meeting on March 27 is intended for town officials to look at all options and come to a consensus on moving forward.

"The idea basically is to get ready to make a good decision about the high school project," Barton said.

The meeting will discuss "budget realities" with the project and the town, enrollment forecasts and the middle school. In the end, Barton sees three options that town officials can choose from as a way to move forward.

Barton said the town could "roll ahead" with the MSBA enrollment, continue subsidizing Hancock, Richmond and New Ashford. Or the town could move ahead with the feasibility but do so with agreed changes to enrollment, middle school and tuition. Or, vote down the feasibility study and "slow down" the process and investigate each of those issues.

"We have to be proactive and that is what this meeting is," Sieloff said.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, March 27, at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.


Tags: enrollment,   MGRHS,   MSBA,   school project,   

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