Tuesday June 12, 2012

CUMMINGTON -- Berk shire Trail Elementary School has earned approval to operate under the guidelines of the state’s Innovation Schools initiative.

The Central Berkshire Re gional School District ann ounced that Berkshire Trail is the second school in the district to garner approval from its school committee to participate in the program. The first was Becket Washington School.

The plans for Becket Wash ington and Berkshire Trail -- the district’s smallest school with 85 students -- will go into effect at the start of the 2012-13 school year.

A signature component of Gov. Deval Patrick’s Achieve ment Gap Act of 2010, Inn ovation Schools are in-district, charter-like public schools that employ inventive strategies and creative approaches to education. Innovation School status creates greater autonomy and flexibility with regard to curriculum, staffing, budget, sch edule/calendar, professional de v elopment and district policies, while keeping operations and school funding within districts.

To earn this status, a school-based planning group must create a prospectus and implementation plan to be presented to the district’s school committee, which must hold at least one public hearing on the subject. A majority vote of the full school committee is required for approval.

Superintendent William Cam eron said that under its plan, Berkshire Trail will implement a program of instruction based on the Expeditionary Learning Schools model. Staff development training will occur over the summer.


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"Berkshire Trail will open the next school year with a revamped approach to instruction and therefore to promoting student learning. Its curriculum will stress cross-disciplinary, project-based instruction throughout its six grades," said Cameron in a written statement. He said this plan will also be aligned with the state’s newly adopted Comm on Core curriculum frameworks.

Last month, Southern Berkshire Regional School District Superintendent Mich ael Singleton an nounced that an Innovation School application and prospectus for New Marlborough Central School in Mill River have been approved by a screening committee consisting of the school committee chairman, superintendent and union representative.

The elementary school’s principal, Erin Woodsome, told The Eagle, "We’re still in the beginning stages of getting approval from the whole school committee. A prospectus has been written and now we’re working on a plan."

A discussion of the plan will be a part of the district’s school committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday.