WILLIAMSTOWN -- Following news of a $50,000 grant to study regionalization, the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee voted at Tuesday night's meeting to investigate expanding the current district to include Williamstown and Lanesborough elementary schools.
"Regionalization can be more advantageous in meeting the future needs of all our students and providing greater continuity in a first-class education system," Superintendent Rose Ellis said in a press-release Monday concerning the grant.
A newly formed Regional District Amendment Committee will investigate expanding the current school district from grade seven through 12, to pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
The committee will be made up of Williamstown Town Manager Peter Fohlin, Lanesborough Town Administrator Paul Sieloff, and at least one member from each school committee, each town's select board and each town's finance committee, as well as up to 3 additional residents of each town.
The Committee will use the $50,000 grant -- awarded by the state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) last Thursday -- to hire a communications consultant, financial specialist and legal counsel.
These posts, along with Ellis, volunteers from the Mount Greylock, Williamstown and Lanesborough school committees; and volunteers from Lanesborough and Williamstown select boards and finance committees, will make up a Regional Agreement Planning
Currently, the three schools have separate school committees and budgets, but share a superintendent, business director, director of pupil services, and curriculum coordinator through a Tri-District Office. If residents in Lanesborough and Williamstown vote to expand the region, one district would be created that would have a single school committee and budget.
Stephen Hemman, the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools, was present to show school committee members how they can approach the regionalization process.
The district would start by developing communication plans, then move to holding focus group meetings. Hemman added that keeping people informed is very important in the process.
If the committee determines regionalization should be pursued, Hemman said, members will develop an agreement and submit it for public review. From there, a draft will be sent to DESE for changes and suggestions, the State Department of Education for approval, and finally, the member towns for voter approval.
Hemman explained since the money was given to "explore" regionalization, the district is under no obligation to regionalize after the study is done. If the district doesn't regionalize, he said, it doesn't have to return any money.
"There's no assumption this will happen," Hemman said.
In other business, the school committee discussed whether to adopt the Massachusetts Association of School Committees' (MASC) position statement on gun control.
The written statement urges Congress to adopt legislation to ban the sale and possession of military style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and to require every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check.
Some members expressed disagreement with the statement's second paragraph, which rejected the National Rifle Association's position that staffing schools with armed security guards was the "most effective" way to protect students.
"I don't understand why we're being asked to take political positions," member Chris Dodig said. He also questioned what the most effective way to protect students would be.
The committee voted to postpone discussion of adopting any stance until the next meeting on Feb. 26.
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