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The Williamstown School Committee met for the final time on Wednesday. The committee will cease to exist on July 1 as the school becomes part of the Mount Greylock Regional School District.

Williamstown Elementary School Committee Holds Final Meeting

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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From left, Williamstown Elementary School Principal Joelle Brookner and School Committee members Catherine Keating and Elizabeth Miller participate in Wednesday's meeting.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — With little fanfare and with an eye on the future, the Williamstown Elementary School Committee on Wednesday held its last scheduled meeting before disbanding on June 30.
 
Four members of the five-person panel gathered in the school's conference room to deal with some of the committee's closing business prior to the Mount Greylock Regional Transition Committee's July 1 assumption of control for all public education in Williamstown and Lanesborough.
 
After dispensing with the business, a couple of members closed the meeting with their thoughts on the committee's work, which included helping lay the groundwork for November's town meeting votes in Lanesborough and Williamstown that accomplished full regionalization of the PreK-12 region.
 
"Thank you for your years or days or however long it's been that you've served," said Dan Caplinger, a former chairman. "The community appreciates your service. … The fact that we're regionalized doesn't make your service less important, and there will be ample roles to play in making sure this transition goes as smoothly as possible."
 
Chairman Joe Bergeron, who serves with Caplinger on the Transition Committee, echoed that point.
 
"The single school committee [at Mount Greylock] will create opportunity for ad hoc membership in subcommittees and working groups, not to mention the School Councils, who will make sure each school maintains its level of stewardship over its future and purpose and identity," Bergeron said.
 
Principal Joelle Brookner added her congratulations to the committee for a job well done.
 
"It's not been said enough how much of an impact you've made," Brookner said. "It's good work and very much appreciated."
 
Likely the last work of the committee was Wednesday's vote to authorize Bergeron to oversee the transfer of account balances from the Town of Williamstown to the regional school district. The PreK-6 school has a number of accounts, including its School Choice revolver and cafeteria revolver, that come under the control of the Transition Committee effective July 1.
 
"This is uncharted territory, in some ways, for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education," Bergeron said, alluding to the guidance the commonwealth provided as the reins of Williamstown Elementary and Lanesborough Elementary are passed to Mount Greylock. "We're squeezing this in a time frame that's awkward on many fronts.
 
"The ideal would be we'd be doing this in mid-July, once the dust has settled and the books are closed. Then we'd know how much money we have and how much we'll be transferring to the Mount Greylock Regional School District. … What we'd do in mid-July with the exact numbers is say, 'We have a bank account with a certain balance, and we want them to move for the same purpose to Mount Greylock.
 
"We can't meet after July 1, because we won't technically exist."
 
The solution was to authorize Bergeron to oversee the transfer and the routine line-item transfers that the school district uses each year to reconcile its books.
 
But first, Mark Chapulis from Auburn consultant The Management Solution gave an overview of the district's finances up to the minute.
 
"To give everyone an idea of how in flux things are, there was $440,000 [in available budget] on Monday when I did the report," Chapulis said. "There's $310,000 right now because a warrant was posted between Monday and today."
 
Even with one large expense still outstanding -- $241,558 for health insurance -- expenditures are tracking well against the $6.8 million budget, Chapulis reported.
 
When that health insurance bill is paid, about 99 percent of the school's budget will have been paid out, Chapulis said.
 
In addition to taking its final look at the district's books, the School Committee voted unanimously to declassify executive session minutes from 12 dates in 2016 and '17.
 
"I'd say all but one or two of those are minutes from executive sessions that pertained to previous rounds of bargaining sessions with [collective bargaining] units here," Caplinger said. "Having the conclusion of those contracts scheduled to come this August, I see no reason not to open those [minutes] up for declassification."

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