Williamstown-Lanesborough school officials look to strengthen bond


WILLIAMSTOWN -- With a possible building project and superintendent search on the horizon, Williamstown-Lanesborough Public Schools officials are seeking to work out differences.

"There's never been questions about the connection between the two communities," Superintendent Rose Ellis said on Thursday. "This year I think that has been tampered with, and I think there is some insecurity of its longevity."

"I think it's regrettable that in one of the most significant years where we're at a crossroads, we've created more confusion than clout."

Williamstown-Lanesborough public schools have shared a superintendent with Mount Greylock Regional School District under School Union 71 since 2008. Officials have cited benefits to the 1,300 student district, including lowered administrative costs and an aligned curriculum between all three schools.

But this winter, Lanesborough officials, including School Committee Chairman Robert Barton, questioned whether the arrangement was good for the town financially. Barton cited population decline countywide as one reason the town may want to join a larger union to save on administrative costs.

Members of School Union 71 and the Mount Greylock School Committee met last week to discuss a "road map" for the future, which includes a building project at Mount Greylock Regional High School and possibly expanding the Mount Greylock region from 7-12 to PreK-12.

Mount Greylock School Committee Chairwoman Carrie Greene noted staff shared by the three school committees felt overwhelmed by work Barton had given them.

"We all want the tri-district to work, but it's not working right now," Greene said. "I think where the issues are taking place are on the school committee level."

Barton expressed his willingness to work with other officials. It was decided to continue with the shared services arrangement, but to look at changes that could be made.

Discussion also focused on a superintendent search for when Ellis' contract expires in June 2015.

Legal counsel Fred Dupere cautioned the committee in picking an interim or replacement. Many interims may be hesitant to take the position, which involves working with three separate school committees, he said.

"This is a massive job," he said. "You need someone who will make a real commitment to work hard and help you succeed."

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