Five years ago, a committee formed to explore ways in which South Berkshire school districts could develop beneficial partnerships didn’t get far, but it did lay the groundwork for another attempt this year. The arguments for partnerships have been enhanced by the passage of time.
The Southern Berkshire Regional School District has created a "cooperation" committee to explore ways of working with nearby districts (Eagle, April 22). This comes at a time when the neighboring Berkshire Hills Regional School District and Lee and Lenox have discussed similar efforts for their public schools.
The region’s school districts confront declining or stagnant student enrollments, residents resistant to tax hikes and increasing mandates from state and federal government, many of them unfunded. Districts could team up to buy heating oil in bulk and find cheaper health insurance plans. Threatened arts programs could find safety in numbers with more students and funding from more towns.
Consolidations are complex and tough sells politically, although Lee and Lenox, and the SBRSD and BHRSD are naturals. Partnerships, however, can begin that process while providing cost savings.