GREAT BARRINGTON -- In an attempt to better understand the concerns that scuttled funding for the high school renovation project, Berkshire Hills Regional School District will host four community forums in Great Barrington over the next month.

The community forums, dubbed "Speak Outs," will take place Jan. 22 through Feb. 3.

The state has given BHRSD a deadline of July 31 to host another vote on the failed vote on $56 million renovation of the Monument Mountain Regional High School project or the project would lose a state subsidy that would cover nearly half the project's cost. The forums will inform district officials on what the community is willing to support.

"The first focus of these forums is for the people in the process to listen to the people who have to pay for it," said Karen Smith, who has been delegated to serve as a public liaison on behalf of the district.

In a districtwide referendum on the project Nov. 5, a majority of voters in the three towns of the district -- Stockbridge, West Stockbridge and Great Barrington -- narrowly approved the $56 million high school renovation. But a separate measure to fund the project was defeated in Great Barrington, whose residents would face the highest tax burden because the town sends the largest share of students to the district schools.

The state subsidy would enable the district to build new science laboratories, a greenhouse and modifications aimed at enhancing school security and bringing the building up to federal and state building code.

The Speak-Outs will be facilitated by Smith, who said the district will strive to understand what the community is willing to support. If residents aren't willing to support the current project, she said she wants to know what is their alternative choice.

There will be four primary questions: What is their vision for the project; What do they like about the project; What don't they like; What are their questions or concerns.

The forums are being hosted at Great Barrington because it was the only town to defeat funding for the project. Residents from the district's other two towns, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge, supported the project's passage.

There will be forums hosted in the other two district towns at a later date, and everyone is invited to the community forums.

District officials, including BHRSD School Committee Chairman Stephen Bannon, district Superintendent Peter Dillon, and Monument Mountain Regional High School Principal Marianne Young also will be present.

Child care will be made available during two of the four meetings, along with transportation assistance.

"We need the community to become very clear," Smith said.

Anyone with questions or in need of transportation is encouraged to contact Smith by e-mail at kws4250@gmail.com.

If you go ...

What: "Speak-Outs," a series of forums in Great Barrington to engage people about the renovation of Monument Mountain Regional High School.

When: 5 p.m. Jan. 22

Where: Hevreh of Southern Berkshire, 270 State Road

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When: 10 a.m. Jan. 25*

Where: Housatonic Congregational Church, 1089 Main St., Housatonic

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When: 7 p.m. Jan. 28

Where: Claire Teague Senior Center, 917 Main St.

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When: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3*

Where: Berkshire South Community Center, 15 Crissey Road

Information: Email Karen Smith at kws4250@gmail.com

* Child care will be available

To reach John Sakata:
jsakata@berkshireeagle.com
or (413) 496-6240.
On Twitter: @jsakata

If you go ...

What: "Speak-Outs," a series of forums in Great Barrington to engage people about the renovation of Monument Mountain Regional High School.

When: 5 p.m. Jan. 22

Where: Hevreh of Southern Berkshire, 270 State Road

n

When: 10 a.m. Jan. 25*

Where: Housatonic Congregational Church, 1089 Main St., Housatonic

n

When: 7 p.m. Jan. 28

Where: Claire Teague Senior Center, 917 Main St.

n

When: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 3*

Where: Berkshire South Community Center, 15 Crissey Road

Information: Email Karen Smith at kws4250@gmail.com

* Child care will be available