The Lenox School Committee is wise to begin considering a potential collaboration with Lee schools (Eagle, June 18.) As it takes two to tango, we urge Lenox's counterpart in Lee to do the same.
The committee voted unanimously to hire PCG (Public Consulting Group) to examine that possibility and other issues affecting the schools. The "Lenoxology" fiasco has made the town understandably wary of consultants, but the former involved a marketing study whose open-ended nature invited trouble. In this case, PCG has actual specifics to explore.
Declining enrollment has left each district with just under 800 students, with a quarter of Lenox's students coming from neighboring communities, primarily Pittsfield, through school choice. Declining enrollments combined with greater educational demands, which translates to higher costs, put an increasing burden on small towns, a burden that can be eased with a collaborative or regional approach.
Four years ago, the three-town Berkshire Hills Regional School District and the five-town Southern Berkshire Regional School District separately considered collaboration but the effort fizzled. Both districts would benefit from merging or at least increasing current collaborative programs but the smaller SBRSD has the most to gain. It is difficult to get the five towns of the SBRSD on the same page, but regionalization has huge advantages for towns, in areas of safety, water treatment and sewers, as well as schools.
The Lee system, which also includes Tyringham, has entertained the concept of regionalization in one form or another but has not actively pursued it. With Lenox taking the initiative, now is the time for Lee to do the same and explore a possible collaboration with Lenox.