Berkshire Hills School Committee to consider scaled-back high school renovation


GREAT BARRINGTON -- The Berkshire Hills Regional School Committee on Thursday will ponder a newer, slimmed-down renovation plan for Monument Mountain Regional High School.

The committee will convene 7 p.m. in the Monument Valley Regional School library. School Committee Chairman Stephen Bannon said officials from the district's three member towns of Great Barrington, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge all have been invited, as have members of the public.

Bannon said he expects the School Committee to vote on whether to go forward or scrap the project.

The original plan, which carried a $56 million price tag, narrowly passed in the district's three member towns. But Great Barrington voters turned down the funding mechanism for the project, effectively scrapping it.

During a series of public forums that followed the defeat, many residents said they simply could not afford the potential tax increase that would accompany the project.

The state School Building Authority has agreed to consider approving a scaled-back project at the same 50 percent reimbursement rate.

Superintendant Peter Dillon said the revised plan would cut at least $4 million from the cost -- but the overall savings to taxpayers could be greater. For example, the refinancing plan could be spread out over a 25-year bond instead of a 20-year bond to lessen the impact to taxpayers.

In addition, the proposed cuts, he said, would lean toward segments of the project that were not slated for reimbursement by the state but were slated to be paid for by taxpayers. Thus, while the cuts would be in the neighborhood of $4 million, district taxpayers could see more savings.

The School Committee will vote Thursday whether or not to go forward. If they do not, Bannon estimates that starting over would push the project back five to seven years.

"One thing I think people can agree on is that we can't do nothing," he said.


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