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School districts’ merger talks seem back on track

(Record photo)
Berkshire Hills School Committee Chairperson Stephen Bannon, left, and Southern Berkshire School Committee member Dennis Sears, center, at a joint meeting last October.

SHEFFIELD — A potential merger between the Berkshire Hills Regional School District and Southern Berkshire Regional School District has reached a general consensus from the select boards of the five towns that make up the southern district.

In response to a June 7 request from Berkshire Hills, the towns of Egremont, New Marlborough, Alford, Monterey and Sheffield officially replied before the requested July 31 deadline, under the impression that the forming, or consolidation process, of the two districts was to start with their approval.

However, a letter sent from Jane Burke, Southern Berkshire’s school committee chair, dated July 18, to BHRSD’s committee chairman , Stephen Bannon, called entering a formal planning process “premature.”

Burke told the Record that she plans to attend Thursday’s regional round table meeting, set for 5 p.m. in the Mt. Everett School Library, to clarify why Southern Berkshire’s school committee may look like it is stalling.

“We were pretty shocked that [Berkshire Hills] thought that our letter meant no,” Burke told the Record. “All it said was that we could slow down a little it and have an informal conversation before we do that. We didn’t say we won’t do that. We just said it doesn’t make any sense if there is not a compatibility.”

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