Public hearing set for proposed Berkshire Hills school budget

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GREAT BARRINGTON — The school committee of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District will hold a public hearing Thursday for its proposed 2020 operating and capital budget.

The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. at the Monument Valley Regional Middle School's Student Center.

The district has pegged its net 2020 costs to run the district's three schools at $26.2 million, a 4.2 percent increase over last year.

Combined with a $2.2 million capital budget, the overall total is $28.4 million, an increase of 4.3 percent.

Partly because it has the most students attending the schools, Great Barrington's share of school costs is highest of the three towns, at $16.7 million, a 3.6 percent increase over last year. Stockbridge will see a 1.7 percent decrease with its share of $2.9 million; West Stockbridge's $3.1 million share is an 8.3 percent increase.

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School Committee Chairman Stephen Bannon said West Stockbridge's payment rise is attributed to the 2 percent hike in student enrollment, as well as a state formula that calculates a town's overall wealth.

But flat health insurance costs are keeping the overall budget down, Bannon said.

"It's not a terrible increase for us," Bannon said of the total increase, one that has been a sore spot for Great Barrington taxpayers in recent years.

He also said that capital costs, which include repairs, and debt payments for the newer schools, will be paid for with a fund of excess cash leftover from the previous year.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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