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Southern school district loses ‘rural’ designation and $70,000 in state aid

SHEFFIELD — School committee members worried that the Southern Berkshire Regional School District had “fallen through the cracks” after a change to the way the state calculates aid for rural districts left the SBRSD without a portion of their expected aid package for FY19.

“They’ve made some adjustments to the formula, possibly favoring urban districts, and now we’re not qualifying as rural,” district Superintendent Beth Regulbuto said. “You’re going to see as we start to present the revenue projections, we’re not really getting what I believe we deserve out here.”

A  Jan. 14 letter co-authored by Regulbuto and Business Administrator Christine Regan asked Sen. Adam Hinds and Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D., Lenox,to meet with the district to discuss the decision, as well as to reconsider the way aid is calculated before doling out future awards.

The school committee also voted to send a follow-up letter to local representatives, the commissioner and the governor’s office to advocate for their district.

“We’re not here to get angry and shake our fists,” school committee Chairman Kenneth Knox said. “But we are here to advocate for our townspeople and for our children and to perform our fiduciary responsibility to give our kids the best education that they can get, the education that is deserved by every single student in the state of Massachusetts.”

School districts are eligible for rural school aid from the state if the average per-capita income doesn’t exceed that of the state, and if the student density is less than 21 students per square mile.

Priority is given to districts with fewer than 11 students per square mile.

The SBRSD has 4.3 students per square mile.

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