Spring expansion vote eyed for Mount Greylock Regional School District


WILLIAMSTOWN -- Residents could be asked as early as next spring whether the Mount Greylock Regional School District should expand its to become a Pre-K through grade 12 region.

School Committee Chairwoman Carrie Greene said the committee took up the issue again this week with Superintendent Rose Ellis announcing her retirement for this December.

"Being in the process of hiring a new superintendent makes this an even more important issue," she said. "Hiring a new superintendent into the current bureaucratic structure is unfortunate. ... Any new superintendent coming in would want to have a full Pre-K through 12 region."

Greene said a subcommittee of Lanesborough and Williamstown officials would likely explore expansion and draft warrant articles in early 2015. The district's immediate priority is hiring a new superintendent, which officials hope to do by December, she said.

Mount Greylock Regional School District currently serves grades 7-12 for Lanesborough and Williamstown, but officials long have sought to include both town's elementary schools. The three schools operate as individual school districts and are overseen by a single superintendent and three school committees under the umbrella of the Williamstown-Lanesborough Tri-District.

A subcommittee explored expansion throughout 2013 with a $50,000 grant from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The committee ultimately recommended expansion to the School Committee, which then voted to bring it to the towns.

But that effort was put on the back burner, Greene said, with Mount Greylock being accepted into the state School Building Authority's eligibility phase last October. The district is now working with the MSBA to create a feasibility study that would determine how to address the 50-year-old facility on Cold Spring Road.

"Some of us, including myself, argued that we couldn't do both," Greene said.

The topic was brought up at Tuesday's meeting between Mount Greylock officials and representatives of the elementary school committees.

"I think the consensus at the table was it needs to go to the towns for a vote," Greene said.

Proponents of expanding the region say it would bring education benefits to the tri-district's 1,200 students through curriculum alignment, financial efficiencies, and logistical efficiencies. And an expanded region could mean more reimbursement from the MSBA for a building project at the middle-high school, Greene said.

But Mount Greylock School Committee member David Langston objected to the funding formula included in the district's regional agreement. In creating the 2013 budget, he noted at Tuesday's meeting, Mount Greylock accepted less money from Williamstown because Lanesborough wasn't able to commit to the same 2.4 percent increase.

Greene acknowledged this was one thing a subcommittee would have to study.

"The two towns are in very different financial situations," she said.

Greene said there would be numerous community forums, information sessions and web resources to provide information to the public.

To reach Edward Damon:
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On Twitter: @BE_EDamon


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