State Urges Clarksburg to Expand Beyond Stamford Talks
iBerkshires.com reports Massachusetts is encouraging Clarksburg to think bigger than just merging across the state line.
Superintendent John Franzoni said the Department of Education has told school officials to take a deeper look at regionalization with other school districts beyond an interstate agreement with Stamford, Vt.
The Northern Berkshire School Union is composed of five separate elementary school districts — Clarksburg, Florida, Monroe, Rowe and Savoy — with a shared central office. But each town school district is essentially separate.
At the same time, Clarksburg is exploring a merger with Stamford, Vt., and part of Thursday evening was spent reviewing a request for proposals to hire a candidate to shepherd the next step in the process. The Interstate Merger Committee agreed that more detail needed to be linked or added to the request and Franzoni repeated what he'd say at the earlier meeting of the School Committee.
"If we're looking at the structure for merging with this town, they're saying why aren't we doing it with the other towns?" Franzoni said.
The state has been pushing for more regionalization and funded the Berkshire County Education Task Force, which is recommending a countywide school district. Vermont has been pushing similar actions more aggressively with the passage of Act 46 that sparked the merger talks between Stamford and Clarksburg.
The current school union has had challenges in conforming financial and educational matters across town lines and even counties. Two employees in the school union office have been charged for Social Security by Rowe in Franklin County since it joined the union and aren't likely to see that reimbursed. And one town paying an extra $60,000 to bus students -- funds that could be covered by regional transportation aid.
Franzoni was having his own issues with a term life insurance policy because it turns out he was being covered in both Rowe and Clarksburg, which were in turn reimbursing themselves and each other. The bill for Clarksburg is $3.14 a quarter.
Beyond that, there have been other issues of towns rejecting bills approved by school committees.