Southern school district letter welcomes consolidation talks

(Evan Triantafilidis)
Town and school committee officials discuss the district’s future at their monthly roundtable meeting.

SHEFFIELD
— In an attempt to create a unified response, the five towns that make up the
Southern Berkshire Regional School District will send a letter with their
intentions of entering potential merger discussions with the Berkshire Hills Regional
School District.

Representatives
from Alford, Egremont, New Marlborough, Monterey
and Sheffield came together for a roundtable
discussion to collaborate on the written response, which would call for
advancing talks while widening the scope of the consolidation conversation.

Jane
Burke, chair of the Southern Berkshire school committee, which comprises the
five towns, had sent a letter to Berkshire Hills
calling the entering of a formal planning process “premature.” Burke has since
clarified that she never meant for her individual statement to be perceived as
not being open to talks in general, but still remained cautious of the idea as
recently as Thursday.

“We are
elected officials in charge of making sure that our kids are well educated,”
said Burke at Thursday’s meeting. “It’s responsible that we do it in a
financially sound way. We are dedicated to that and want to hear their ideas.”

Jon
Sylbert, a member of Monterey’s
finance committee, said he agreed with Burke’s intentions, but questioned how
it could be perceived compared to the individual towns’ responses.

“I’m not disagreeing with that,” said Sylbert in response to Burke. “I’m just sorry that the school committee made a representation that was not really in line with four towns who had already submitted letters.”

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