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Editorial: Rowe can’t make a complete break

Now that the North Berkshire School Union has voted to allow Rowe to join its shared elementary school superintendency, the relationship with Mohawk Trail Regional School District should take on a more civil air.

After all, supporters of this divorce, ending a decades-old relationship, think they’ve found a better fit. And as far as the Rowe Elementary School goes, it appears to be so. The North Berkshire School Union provides a superintendent and other administrative services to elementary schools in the communities of Clarksburg, Savoy, Florida and Monroe. As Judy Olson, a Florida resident and board member for the union said, “... all in-school decisions are made through our principal. ... We don’t make any decisions about anyone else’s school.”

But as in any marriage split there remain issues that keep the parties tied together, no matter how much they want to quickly part ways — custody of the kids comes to mind. Although this arrangement with the North Berkshire School Union will provide Rowe control for elementary school, the district will still have to have an agreement with Mohawk for educating students in grades seven through 12.

It is possible that Rowe’s decision will mean little to the existing pact with Mohawk, whereby Rowe has been paying tuition for its junior/high school-age students to go to school. This school year, Rowe’s bill was $289,926 for 27 students, which breaks down to $10,738 per student. This cost reflects a discount, about 10 percent, that Rowe received in exchange for voluntarily withdrawing from the district as part of a maneuver by Mohawk to qualify for more state aid.

Given discussions about Rowe’s tuition and whether the Mohawk member towns have been paying more than they should, tuition is going to be a hot topic, made even more so because of how the elementary school breakup evolved. Rowe doesn’t have the same options for its older students as it does with the elementary school. The North Berkshire School Union schools send high school students to Drury in North Adams and Hoosac Valley in Chester. We don’t see Rowe shifting its high school students that far away.

What Rowe and Mohawk are going to have to do is decide that whatever the differences at the elementary school level, overcoming any animosity that exists must occur, as in a divorce, for the sake of the children.

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