Our Opinion: Stockbridge voters back greater good

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The many benefits of regional school districts can't be fulfilled if the communities within them take an every-town-for-itself attitude. Stockbridge has given a considerable boost to the Berkshire Hills Regional School District and set an admirable example for other towns by putting another community's interests before its own.

At Monday night's annual town meeting, Stockbridge voters approved a new funding formula for the BHRSD that increases the funding burden for capital projects for Stockbridge voters while easing that burden for the town of Great Barrington. (There will be little change in West Stockbridge, the third town in the BHRSD). The funding formula, which had already been approved by Great Barrington and West Stockbridge, will be based on a community's equalized, taxable real estate value rather than by student count, and in Stockbridge's case will result in its share of capital projects increasing from 15 percent to 32 percent because property values in the town are higher than the other member towns (Eagle, May 16). The formula employed by the BHRSD is based on that agreed to recently by Williamstown in its funding agreement with school district partner Lanesborough.

The funding formula will only pertain to new capital projects, which ideally will lead to a desperately needed renovation for Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington. Opposition to a new high school in Great Barrington ended an effort that would have been backed by state funding. The school building has all of the problems shared by schools like Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton and the soon to be replaced Taconic High School in Pittsfield, such as a leaky roof, dated classroom configurations and inadequate lab space. A renovation is overdue.

The vote in Stockbridge, however, has greater significance than just dollars and cents. Voters in Stockbridge, which approved the formula 155-to-91, put the greater good first even though in doing so they will pay a larger share of future capital projects. The greater good is a noble concept that is too often forgotten in a largely me-first era. Stockbridge deserves praise for bringing it forward once more.

Stockbridge also provides a model for how other Berkshire communities must act as shared services between communities becomes an increasing necessity (Eagle editorial, May 15.) Lee and Lenox will soon begin sharing a town administrator, and as this process unfolds and ideally, as the sharing of services increases, there may be tensions between the communities. Those tensions will be eased if residents of both acknowledge that they can be protective of their own town's needs while being cognizant of the problems facing the other community. By doing so, shared services will benefit both towns.

Sharing of services and cooperation among towns that make up regional school districts are of critical importance as Berkshire communities confront rising costs and declining or stagnant populations. Lee, Lenox, Williamstown and now Stockbridge have shown their neighbors how this can be accomplished.


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