Lanesborough will take a critical vote Tuesday on the Mount Greylock Regional High School project. A vote that is not just critical for the school but for the town.
Two weeks ago, Williamstown voted resoundingly in favor of the project. The Massachusetts School Building Authority has agreed to reimburse the towns for 60 percent of the $64,8 million project, which officials in both towns worked diligently upon with the goal of addressing community concerns and complying with MSBA requirements.
The repair and construction project will not only deal with the many problems posed by a decaying 55-year-old building it will provide the towns with a compact, energy efficient building that meets contemporary educational standards. A repair project will cost $58 million and the state would not contribute funding.
Lanesborough has lost businesses and undeniably faces financial challenges, but these are arguments for the project, not against it. Failing to address the status quo only reinforces it. A much-improved high school will draw residents and businesses to both towns, and a vote in favor says townspeople believe in the future of their communities.
We hope Lanesborough residents will not subscribe to the argument that they should wait until the Berkshire Education Task Force makes its recommendations. The advisory group is in its early stages, may not recommend any school consolidations, and if it should, that could be a lengthy, years-long process with no guarantees of agreement among affected towns or of state funding. In a letter to the editor Tuesday, Task Force Chairman John Hockridge wrote that the group "has been very clear that we do not in any way want to interfere with the efforts of the Mount Greylock MSBA building project."
Lanesborough has an opportunity to join Williamstown in approving a school project financed in large part by the state that will benefit the towns' young people and the towns themselves for decades to come. This opportunity may not come again soon, if ever. We urge Lanesborough to support the Mount Greylock Regional High School project with a "Yes" vote on Tuesday, March 15.