To the editor of THE EAGLE:
I am a member of the Berkshires Hills Regional School District School Committee. I graduated from Monument Mountain Regional High School in 1988. I have scores of friends and family who went to Monument. Many of them have kids who either went to Monument, are currently going or will be going in the coming years.
This year, the 50th graduating class of Monument entered the ninth grade. By the end of the school year, more than 7,000 kids will have graduated from the high school. The school’s current graduation rate is 95.6 percent, the highest graduation rate in the county. A parent recently reminded me that the success of Monument is the result of many stakeholders: great teachers, a proactive administration, an involved School Committee, nurturing parents, a supportive community, and a facility that can accommodate all facets of learning and well-being for the students and it’s stakeholders.
Unfortunately, the high school building has not had any substantive improvements or upgrades since it was built. Within the next 10 years, a number of major upgrades and repairs will need to occur in order to keep that facility serviceable, safe and secure for our community. Additionally, work will need to be done to ensure educational offerings can scale to the ongoing and future needs of our students.
In 2008, the school district started the process of working with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA); to formulate a project for renovating the high school building that would not only address structural issues but also accommodate education to scale over the next 50 years.
Five years later, not only have we been able to define the project, but we have also been successful in getting the MSBA to secure a $25 million reimbursement for the project. That equates to nearly half of all the project costs. For the work to be done and the benefit it will achieve, coupled with historic lows in interest rates and construction costs, this represents a significant savings of doing the same work over a longer period of time in a piecemeal fashion.
On Tuesday, Nov. 5, the district towns of Great Barrington, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge will vote on this project and to secure the $25 million reimbursement from the state. I strongly encourage you to vote in favor of this project, as it will greatly benefit our kids and the community. Please visit MonumentNow.org for more information.