Mount Greylock Regional merger plan now in Lanesborough, Williamstown voters' hands

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Lanesborough and Williamstown are gearing up to decide whether the Mount Greylock Regional School District should expand to a pre-K through grade 12 entity.

In separate special town meetings, voters on Tuesday, Nov. 14, will consider rolling each municipality's elementary school within the Grade 7-12 Mount Greylock school system.

Lanesborough will gather 6 p.m. at its elementary school; Williamstown's meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at its grade school.

Under the expansion plan, a single superintendent position would cover all three schools. The existing seven-member Mount Greylock School Committee would be the sole elected governing body for the new district. The individual elementary school district committees would disband after June 30.

The existing committee makeup would remain: four members from Williamstown and three from Lanesborough. Voters in both municipalities would elect all seven to staggered four-year terms. The first election is set for November 2018. In the interim, a transitional regional school board would consist of two Williamstown and Lanesborough representatives from the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee, two from the Williamstown School Committee and one from the Lanesborough School Committee.

Mount Greylock officials have emphasized that each existing school council, an advisory panel of parents, students, teachers and community members, will have more input on spending, school policy and operation of their respective elementary schools. Annual town meetings in each community would vote on a single assessment that would include funding for Mount Greylock and the two elementary schools.

Making the switch to a single district has some cost savings to taxpayers, according to school officials. The new district would continue to save about $400,000 annually, as it has the past decade under a streamlined administration for all three schools.

Additional net savings of $121,000 are likely with a potential boost in state transportation of $191,000, based on fiscal 2018 calculations, minus the one-time, $70,000 compensation when merging teacher and the other union contracts from all three schools.

The taxpayers would maintain ownership of their respective elementary schools, with each town responsible for capital debt attached to their respective school, according to the proposal.

All three schools' principals would remain, but the individual school budgets would be combined into a single spending plan. Each spring, the towns would vote on an operating budget assessment toward funding their respective elementary schools and paying their share of the Mount Greylock operating expenses for each fiscal year starting July 1.

Dick Lindsay can be reached at rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com and 413-496-6233.


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