Mohawk Trail Regional School District plans sustainability study, backed with $100K donation

  • Mohawk Trail Regional School in Buckland. Staff File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 6/22/2022 4:23:32 PM
Modified: 6/22/2022 4:23:12 PM

BUCKLAND — The Mohawk Trail Regional School District plans to conduct a sustainability study to find new ways to adapt to the future of education.

The school district received an anonymous $100,000 donation, conveyed through the Mary Lyon Foundation, to fund the sustainability study, and is now seeking to hire a company to do the work.

“It is important to create a sense of urgency regarding sustainability for our school,” said Sheryl Stanton, superintendent of the Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont regional school districts.

“The school budget goes up and the residents are rightly concerned,” noted Mohawk Trail School Committee Chair Martha Thurber.

According to the invitation for bids, the study will “analyze the current operating conditions of the district,” “project the impact of maintaining the status quo” and “recommend potential changes.” It will focus on four areas: enrollment and School Choice numbers, fiscal conditions, educational programming and facilities.

“We need to ask, ‘Can the facilities we have provide a high-quality education? Are we organized in a way for the expected learning of 2023?’” Stanton said.

“We have four buildings that all are older,” Thurber said. “We need the most efficient way to deliver education for the kids given the financial problems of the towns.”

Mohawk Trail’s BEST (Building Education Sustainability and Trust) Committee conducted a similar study in 2016.

“I think some things are obviously the same and some things have changed,” Stanton said. This sustainability study will continue the work of that committee.

This invitation for bids is the second invitation the district has released, having not received any proposals the first time. This process will allow bidders to name their own proposals with costs.

The sustainability study is predicted to have a price tag of more than $100,000, because it will take a lot of time to gather the necessary data, Stanton said. The district is seeking grants to offset any extra costs. Whichever organization conducts the study will be tasked with interviewing community members, staff and more for the data collection.

“It is not clear how much it will cost,” Thurber noted. “We have a $100,000 donation, but we don’t think it will be enough to do everything we would like it to do.”

According to the invitation for bids, rural aid has provided some support for the district, but “not an amount that significantly changes the financial outlook for the district.”

“We don’t have economies of scale,” Stanton said of rural districts. “It is more expensive to do this work in rural areas, and we don’t have the resources for it.”

Stanton noted that the total expenditures per pupil at Mohawk Trail is $21,201. The top-spending districts in the state spend $40,538, $34,026 and $32,647 per pupil.

“We need to find an equitable way to spend money on students across the commonwealth to solve our problems,” Stanton said.

Additionally, the invitation for bids notes that the Student Opportunity Act “has increased minimum contributions of towns, basically shifting the known increased expenses of educating students to the towns already struggling to maintain key services to their communities.”

Compounding the financial difficulties, Thurber noted that while the school district has received federal help through COVID-19 relief funding, those funds will run out come September 2024.

“Federal help is keeping the assessments low, but that is going to stop,” Thurber explained. “We will need to decide what programs to cut, so we need data from the sustainability study.”

To view the invitation for bids and for more information, visit bit.ly/3QKmvrs.

Contact Bella Levavi at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


Jobs



Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.


Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
 

 

Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy