LENOX -- With the future direction of the local district at stake, school officials have extended by one week the deadline for parents, students and all taxpayers to complete an online survey so their views can count.

Parents as well as the students from Pittsfield, Richmond, Lee and other towns who attend Lenox public schools under choice programs are also encouraged to take part.

So far, according to schools Superintendent Edward W. Costa II, about 700 surveys designed by the Boston-based Public Consulting Group overseeing the town's strategic study have been received since the questionnaire went online Oct. 1.

The new deadline is Friday.

The survey seeks input regarding key issues being explored in the study, which include the future of the school choice program as well as potential collaboration or even some form of regionalization with a neighboring school district.

Enrollment has been declining in most public school districts countywide, as well as throughout the state and the rest of New England, reflecting decreasing population. In Lenox, 29 percent of the 753 students are from out of town.

Local leaders have pointed out that wide participation is vital since about 60 percent of real estate taxes paid by all property owners fund the schools, whether or not they now have or have ever had youngsters enrolled.

The surveys are at