Mount Greylock Regional School Committee Chairwoman Regina DiLego, left, and Superintendent Kimberley Grady follow public comment at the start of Tuesday's meeting.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School District may take a look at transitioning to universal pre-kindergarten as soon as the current academic year.
At last Tuesday's School Committee meeting, Superintendent Kimberley Grady broached the subject of removing the fees the district currently charges for programs at Williamstown Elementary School and Lanesborough Elementary School.
The topic is trending across the commonwealth, and the need is growing in the district, Grady said.
At the state level, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees is voting on a resolution that the group, "file or support legislation that will provide a sufficient appropriation for universal pre-K in Massachusetts and will achieve the actions necessary to provide access to good, quality universal pre-K for all children in Massachusetts."
Locally, Grady said she sees concerning trends of declining pre-kindergarten enrollment and assessment scores among incoming kindergarteners that indicate greater need.
And, in a Friday interview, she explained that the benefit of universal pre-K would outweigh the potential of lost revenue from doing away with the district's current fees.
"Many years ago, we made a change [to the pre-K program] that said if families met the requirements for free or reduced lunch, there'd be a sliding scale," Grady said. "Of 13 families in Lanesborough right now, only two pay. So what is the revenue? $18 a day for 175 days for two kids."
Of course, the hope is that by making pre-kindergarten universal, the district would see an increase in enrollment, but Grady said there would be budgetary offsets.
"If we can bring 45 more kids into the school district, that's 45 more kids I can count for regional reimbursement and transportation reimbursement," she said. "There wouldn't be a loss."
Grady said a switch to universal pre-K would require alterations in the district's policy.
"When I was talking with [district counsel] Adam Dupere, he said: If you're going to offer it free for everyone, you'll get families that will hold up a slot and only come one or two days a week," Grady said. "I'm going to talk to other superintendents and see how we can address that so it's not a place you can bring your child only one or two days a week. [Sporadic] attendance is not going to yield the results we want."
Education is not compulsory until first grade in Massachusetts.
Grady said if the universal pre-K switch can't happen this year, it will be one of her priorities for the 2020-21 school year.
In other business at Tuesday's marathon meeting, the committee approved an expenditure of up to $125,000 from the Williams Elementary School building endowment to address the heating system, including a needed replacement of the glycol that runs through the pipes at the elementary school.
The district's director of buildings and grounds told the committee that the liquid was bad and that failure to replace it before turning up the heat this fall could result in "dire consequences," including school closures.
Grady said that while there are no leaks in the system now and no current safety risks, the freezing point of the current glycol in the pipes was up to minus-1 degree.
A similar request was made on Tuesday to the Board of Selectmen in Lanesborough, which authorized an emergency request to replace the glycol at Lanesborough Elementary School, where the liquid's freeze point was up to 10-above, Grady said.
Buildings and Grounds Director Tim Sears indicated that deferred maintenance was an issue at the elementary schools.
"When you have a glycol system, typically at about three years, you put in an additive that will buy you another five years," he said. "At that point, you can do another additive. If those steps are skipped, your glycol is bad after a few years.
"You can get 15 years out of it if it's treated properly. I don't believe this was. It's in really bad shape. Other than that, it's just routine and part of our long-term maintenance plan. … It will be coming up here at Mount Greylock in about a year and a half. It's something that's so expensive not to take care of. It just makes good sense."
The emergency work at both elementary schools was scheduled to be completed over the four-day extended weekend for students created by Monday's Indigenous Peoples/Columbus Day holiday and a districtwide professional development day for faculty on Friday.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Williams Students Create Charity to Feed Healthcare Workers, Help Local Businesses
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — At a time when the number of worthy causes can seem overwhelming, a couple of Williams College students have created a way for donors to support two endeavors with one donation.
"Williams for Williamstown: Feeding BMC" is the brainchild of Williams senior Eliza Bower, who decided to do her part by supporting frontline healthcare workers and small businesses who are struggling in the era of social distancing — both at the same time.
"We're calling it a win-win-win," Bower said on Tuesday morning. "It helps local businesses and restaurants, helps Berkshire Medical Center and helps engage the Williams College community and staff.
"We picked this because we'd have those three aspects, and we knew we'd have an immediate impact and could ramp it up quickly. Hopefully, it's sustainable and can last for the run of the pandemic."
Along with classmate Emily Tibbetts of Lenox, Bower last week started a GoFundMe campaign to support Williams for Williamstown. As of early Tuesday afternoon, it had raised more than $3,200.
click for more
The season was scheduled to open on June 30 on the Main Stage with Tennessee Williams' classic "A Streetcar Named Desire." Six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald was scheduled to star as Blanche DuBois in this production directed by Robert O’Hara, with Carla Gugino as Stella and Bobby Cannavale... click for more
A recurring theme in the national conversation around the novel coronavirus has been the emotional toll it has taken on doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals who deal both with the stress of trying to beat the virus and the fear that they will be infected themselves or spread it to... click for more
Another connection between the two. The 1970 strike disrupted the final semester for Miller and his classmates at the college. And in 2020, they were scheduled to hold their 50th class reunion in Williamstown the weekend of June 13. click for more