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Despite renovation defeat, Monument Mountain High School still needs fixing

In her letter, Karen Smith writes: "I would suggest that those who think the plan put forth was flawed, to suit up, show up, be present and do the work it takes in order to remedy the situation."

To The Editor:

Democracy is our American form of government, and that means one person, one vote. I honor and cherish this given right. I have experienced places and spaces that do not honor nor cherish it, and in whatever direction the Monument Regional High School renovation vote went, I would always choose this form of government.

That said, there are some things that have not changed since yesterday, and those are:

No. 1: The building needs to be fixed, repaired, renovated — whatever word you want to use.

No. 2: It is going to be expensive and cost the taxpayers in the district money to do so.

No. 3: Everyone wants this superb high school to remain.

No. 4: We have a high school that maintains high academic standards, devoted faculty who encourage and foster creative learning, and who support children who either want to go to college or want to enter a trade after high school. Berkshire Hills’ programming is so rich and its academic standards are so high, we have more students than we can accommodate clamoring to choice into the district.

What is now in flux is how the work to the building gets done and who pays what to do so. I offer these statements: I would suggest that those who think the plan put forth was flawed, to suit up, show up, be present and do the work it takes in order to remedy the situation. Be ready to commit to a process that will take a large amount of time and engage with incredibly complex state laws, and be sensitive to the ongoing need to educate our children.

The issue of how it is paid for is a threefold problem: The Regional Agreement is the task of all district selectboards, and is long overdue for an overhaul. Tuition Agreement negotiations are the task of the School Committees, and while those have been started, they may not be moving quickly enough for some. Hard decisions will need to be made about keeping those students, and at what level of reimbursement we can tolerate or not. The Choice reimbursement rate needs to be confronted by every taxpayer in the district, and those in the other 12 districts in the Commonwealth that are being penalized for doing a good job.

It is not enough to criticize what has been done. We must all now take constructive action.

Karen W. Smith

Great Barrington

The writer is chair of the Renovation Steering Committee.

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