LENOX -- The crucial study on the future direction of the town's school district is nearing its end game as the School Committee's Stra tegic Study group slates another public meeting for Wednesday to review the work completed so far.

Financial sustainability for the system challenged by steadily declining local enrollment and rising costs is front and center among the issues identified by more than 1,000 people who took surveys, joined focus groups or were personally interviewed. Among the other key themes that emerged included academic diversity, school culture, district leadership and communication.

A "working document of a strategic plan" will be up for discussion by the 13-member Strategic Study Committee, according to Steve Kutno of the Public Consulting Group (PCG), contracted by the school district to coordinate information-gathering and plan preparation.

"The goal of the public meeting is to share PCG's best attempt to consolidate all the work completed to date," Kutno wrote in an e-mail. But, he pointed out, the strategic planning members could remove, revise or otherwise modify and correct portions of the 3- to 5-year action plan before they present it formally to the School Comm ittee as a set of recommendations.

The session will begin at 6 p.m. in the second floor Select Board meeting room at Town Hall.


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Kutno said that he plans to "walk the committee through the document," focusing on vision, mission, strategic priorities to accomplish the vision and individual "action items."

He and Superintendent Edward W. Costa II agreed that there would be one more meeting before PCG presents a final, agreed-upon document to the full School Committee and the community in a public meeting.

Examination of school choice policies, shared services with another district, and a form of regionalization or unionization with a nearby school system are among the possibilities the final study is expected to address.

Shortly after Costa an nounced his retirement as of June 30, leaders of the Berkshire Hills district serving Great Barrington, Stock bridge and West Stockbridge proposed talks on a potential sharing of superintendents, at least on an interim basis.

The Lee-Tyringham school union, also studying its strategic goals, has also expressed interest in shared services, or even regionalization, in the future.

Morris Elementary School Principal Timothy Lee, who has state certification qualifying him for a superintendent's position, has said that he will apply for the opening created by Costa's impending departure.

To contact Clarence Fanto:
cfanto@yahoo.com
or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto