The shared superintendency arrangement described by Peter Dillon as a "leap of faith" may be just that but it is not a blind leap. It is a bold, thoughtful leap into the near future for Berkshire County.
Shaker Mountain School Union 70 has chosen Mr. Dillon, the superintendent of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, as its superintendent in what will be a first-in-the-state arrangement (Eagle, April 13). Shaker Mountain has school buildings in Hancock and Richmond, while the BHRSD has three schools in Great Barrington.
The details of the pioneering arrangement must still be worked out, but Mr. Dillon is a good choice to make it work. Before coming to the Berkshires seven years ago, he oversaw 150-300 schools as director of policy for the New York City Public Schools. As president of the Berkshire Superintendents Roundtable he has been a staunch advocate of collaborative efforts, including shared services.
Making it work will require support of both districts, which appears to be there. Shaker Mountain School Union members chose Mr. Dillon unanimously over two other good candidates, including Lenox Superintendent Timothy Lee, who would also have been part of a shared-services arrangement. Mr. Dillon described the BHRSD School Committee as unanimously supportive of shared services.
As the Berkshire population declines, shared services will be increasingly necessary in public schools and in town government. Besides cost savings, shared services in education can produce new ways of collaborating among schools and districts and preserve music and arts programs that are always the first to be cut. The Shaker Mountain, BHRSD effort should provide an education for the Berkshires.