Letter: Dalton, school district manipulate decision on new Wahconah high school
To the editor:
There will be an unprecedented popular vote taken by the seven member towns within the Central Berkshire Regional School District (CBRSD) on Saturday, April 6, on whether or not to fund and build a new Wahconah Regional High School. The majority stakeholder, Dalton, by this simple yes or no vote, in apparent violation of the regional agreement, now potentially controls the budgets of the other member towns without their consent. The "by town" vote of the past on all capital debt, as has been our custom and tradition, gave each member town, as a town, an equal say and control over their budget. This change as professed and engineered by a feckless few in the CBRSD, in my view, is morally and ethically wrong. As small towns, Peru, Becket, Washington, Hinsdale, Cummington and Windsor are at a huge financial and positional disadvantage.
The Wahconah project is without structure or definable costs. Member towns are being asked to vote on a Wahconah project without any trustworthy knowledge or basic understanding of the cost or architectural concept of the project. Like other more recent letters to the editor, I am also wondering what we are going to get for the $60 million to $77 million CBRSD is asking all of us to fund and tax. After two expensive feasibility studies one might think we would know what we wanted by now. Recent CBRSD and the Dalton Selectboard actions to game the dollar figures to see what might pass the Dalton voters without member town input suggests our students are going to be forced to settle for something less than a first class institution of learning. Student input does matter!
Be careful what you vote for.
Cummington's fair share contribution to subsequent CBRSD annual assessments, after its school was unceremoniously closed in 2016, decreased steadily as its students are choicing elsewhere. This trend will continue until we leave the district. That means each town's fair share contribution to these annual assessments and this capital debt will steadily increase despite what Dalton and CBRSD have orchestrated or want you to believe. More importantly, manipulating a vote on a capital project of this magnitude and allowing Dalton access to money outside of their purview that hasn't been blessed by a vote of this town or any of our member town as whole is reprehensible.
CBRSD is betting on a low Saturday turnout. Please don't let that happen. Pass the word. Make your vote count.
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