WILLIAMSTOWN -- A committee is moving forward in exploring the pros and cons of expanding Mount Greylock Regional School District.
The Regional District Amendment Committee, created at a School Committee meeting on Jan. 15, is a 19-member task force made up of officials from Lanesborough and Williamstown that will determine whether to recommend the district expand to include Williamstown and Lanesborough elementary schools.
"Our job is to really assess all of this information and make an informed recommendation so that the school committees and the towns can decide whether this is something that they're looking to do," School Committee Chair Carrie Greene said at Monday's meeting.
Currently, each school has separate school committees and budgets, but share a superintendent through a Tri-District Office. If the district is expanded to include the three schools, there would be one single school committee and budget.
The committee is using a $50,000 grant from the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to pay for three consultants -- a communications, financial and legal consultant -- during the course of the study.
At Monday's meeting, Greene assigned members to four groups to explore different subjects: current regional agreement/collective bargaining contract, finances, education and community relations.
Greene said the committee will ultimately recommend to the Mount Greylock Regional
"If the school committee agrees with our recommendation ... then we bring it to the towns," Greene said. "We would need both Lanesborough and Williamstown, and any of the other towns that want to join in on this process, we would need everyone to agree in order for this to move forward."
Stephen Hemman, of the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools (MARS), who serves as a communications consultant for the committee, outlined advantages the organization believes to come from enlarging districts.
The students can benefit from a coordinated curriculum, he said, and a greater efficiency could mean the district could offer more. Other advantages include the efficiency of having a single budget, an opportunity to expand extracurricular activities and athletic programs, and the possibility the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) would increase reimbursement for a school building project.
Hemman said challenges include residents fearing a loss of community voice, as the separate school committees would be dissolved in favor of a single committee, and a fear of a loss of control.
The four working groups discussed advantages and disadvantages to expanding the district.
Superintendent Rose Ellis, who serves on the education working group, said one advantage discussed was an increased feeling of unity.
"A teacher in one district may only have one colleague at a district level," she said. "If [the district] partnered with another school, they may have three colleagues to share experiences with."
The next open meeting of the committee is April 3 at 6:30 p.m.
To reach Edward Damon, email