Berkshire Hills School District officials continue to explore shared services options
STOCKBRIDGE — A full month into the school year, the Berkshire Hills Regional School District officials are still assessing the success of a shared superintendency arrangement with the Shaker Mountain School Union.
But that hasn't stopped those officials from continuing to reach out to other districts to explore potential ways to share services.
"There are a lot of ongoing meetings," said School Committee Chairman Steve Bannon. "We're in perpetual development."
Communities and school districts in the Berkshires have been exploring shared services as a way to defray costs and maximize efficiency. For some school districts, this could mean consolidation into one district from two or three; for others, it may mean sharing buildings and fields, administrators or food services.
Berkshire Hills and Shaker Mountain have entered a shared services program that sends Superintendent Peter Dillon to Shaker Mountain for approximately 40 percent of his work week. Dillon described this as still working "100 percent of the week," but spread out differently — although he pointed out that that was in theory. The reality is playing out differently.
On Wednesday, Dillon told the committee's shared services group that his added duties in the Shaker Mountain district were adding approximately 250 hours annually to his workload. Bannon and Richard Bradway told Dillon they would hammer out a proposal that would compensate him for the hours.
Dillon was hesitant to call the new program a success this early on, he said. He called the decision to share the superintendent's position across two districts a choice that could be made due to increased district efficiency — but he stopped short of calling that choice the right choice just yet.
"Issues may not surface in October," Dillon said. "But they may in December."
The subcommittee also discussed the possibilities of shared services with three other districts: Southern Berkshire, Farmington River and Lee. Last year's attempts to join forces with the other districts were unsuccessful and the committee stopped working on outreach.
Now, the outreach will begin again with Bradway, Bannon, and Dillon set to contact Southern Berkshire, Lee, and Farmington River respectively.
"It's important that they all know we're open to a lot of things," Dillon said. "Facilities, technology, administration."
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