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A joint meeting of the Finance Committee and Selectmen heard from School Superintendent Kimberley Grady on Wednesday night.
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Acting School Committee Chairwoman Christina Conry, left, and Mount Greylock Principal Mary MacDonald listen to the superintendent's presentation.
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New Lanesborough Elementary Principal Nolan Pratt addresses town officials at Wednesday night's budget meeting.

Mount Greylock Proposes Smaller Budget to Lanesborough

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
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Superintendent Kimberley Grady brought good news to Lanesborough town officials Wednesday in the form of a slightly smaller school budget for fiscal 2021.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The news of a smaller school budget for fiscal 2021 was welcomed on all fronts in Lanesborough.
Mount Greylock Regional School District Superintendent Kimberley Grady presented the preliminary school budget to a joint meeting of the Finance Committee and Selectmen on Wednesday night.
"There will be a very slight decrease from last year's budget," Grady told the assembled town officials. She was assisted by members of the district's administration including Mount Greylock Principal Mary MacDonald, Lanesborough Elementary Principal Nolan Pratt, Assistant Superintendent for Finance Andrea Wadsworth and several members of the School Committee.
If the budget is accepted at its current numbers by town meeting, Lanesborough's assessment will go from $5,769,249 to $5,761,836, a drop of roughly 0.13 percent. 
"Mount Greylock has had a great deal of activity over the last few years with the project of regionalization that formalized on July 1, 2018. It was great to have a full team working on this process. Nolan being new, some people on the [School] Board being new. It's the first time as a region we've had all our positions filled where we could go in aligned and clean things up so we are transparent for the community," said the under-the-weather Grady. "I kept looking at line items and saying there are too many zeroes, once I got to a negative number I stopped."
Regionalization necessitated a different budget process as several costs, most notably health care, were shifted from the individual towns to the district as a whole. 
Finance Committee Chairwoman Jodi-Lee Szczepaniak Locke was impressed by the inclusion of all levels of the administration in the process. 
"Less money is always good. The fact that the principals and School Committee felt that they were listened to and they feel confident that the budget was in favor of supporting our children and education here in our communities," she said.
Henry "Hank" Sayers, speaking as acting chairman for the Board of Selectmen in John Goerlach's absence, added a typically short and positive assessment of the presentation.
"I'm glad to hear it's a negative figure, simple enough," he said.
Grady said the budget process helps to identify not only the cost of education for the district, but also helps her and her staff take a big picture look at the health of the district as a whole.
"We've got a lot of great activities going on, with regionalization finalized, we have finalized the teachers' contracts, Mary [MacDonald] would like to stay within the district in a position, Joelle [Brookner, principal Williamstown Elementary] took a very strong move to a district position after 28 years so I'm psyched to have a director of curriculum instruction. We have a director of academic technologies. We have a vision."
She summed up what this all means for the students and how it leads to a thriving school district.
"We have the Student Opportunity Act, multi-tiered system of support, it's really us drilling down and doing great things for kids. We've got very low out-of-district numbers so we're keeping our kids in the neighborhood schools and we're out there in the community with our students," she said. "Right now, it's good."
Grady said she plans on bringing the Williamstown officials the same good news of a flat budget at a meeting with them on Thursday night.

Tags: fiscal 2021,   MGRSD_budget,   school budget,   

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Lanesborough Fire Department Continues Senior Holiday Meal Tradition

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff

P.J. Pannesco hands out meals to Lanesborough seniors.
LANESOBOROUGH, Mass. — The town's volunteer fire department has been filling bellies and raising spirits at the holidays for nearly 50 years.
The COVID-19 pandemic curtailed its plans to do the latter. There was no way the firefighters were going to stop doing the former.
Sunday at noon, area senior citizens began lining up for a drive-thru holiday meal at the Main Street station. It wasn't exactly the same as the annual community meal the department has hosted since 1974. But it was the best the volunteers could do under the circumstances.
"It was never a consideration that we weren't going to do it," firefighter P.J. Pannesco said as volunteers made final preparations to serve the meals. "When we realized that it was not going to be possible to put 75 people in a room like this — and we can do it because we have plenty of tables — we said, without a doubt, all the restaurants are doing drive-thru and curbside and so can we."
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