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School renovation planning conducted in public meetings

"What is untrue and troubling is the accusations that anyone representing Monument Matters or the District lied or hid any option from the public." -- Stephen C. Bannon, chairman of the Berkshire Hills School Committee

To the Editor:

There has been much discussion about the so-called third option pertaining to the Monument Mountain Renovation Plan. In a nut shell the 3rd option is a repair only option that would see MSBA [Massachusetts School Building Authority] reimbursement of approximately 40 percent. The opponents of our current renovation plan claim we have hidden this option from the public. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The repair-only option was one of over a dozen options vetted by the School Building Committee. Every one of the School Building Committee meetings was posted and open to the public. The School Building Committee made numerous reports to the School Committee in public meetings where many of these options were discussed. The Berkshire Hills Regional School District School Committee ultimately endorsed the recommendation of the Building Committee to bring forward a renovation  option which included both facility upgrades and  educational enhancements .

The 3rd option while slightly less expensive would have approximately a 20 percent lower reimbursement than our current proposal. We have been asked why we didn’t bring this option to the voters this past November in addition to the proposal we submitted.  First and foremost the MSBA would not have allowed us to bring more than one option to the voters. They asked us to submit one option for their approval and that is what we did. We submitted the option that we felt was beneficial both educationally and financially.

We were and are aware that any options we bring foreword will increase the residents  taxes. We wanted the plan that we felt meet the educational criteria spelled out in our Statement of Intent and was eligible for the maximum amount of reimbursement.

You may disagree with our decisions and we respect that. In a democracy disagreement is encouraged. What is untrue and troubling is the accusations that anyone representing Monument Matters or the District lied or hid any option from the public. We want this project to be successful but not at any cost. We respect the democratic process and would not do anything to affect the integrity of that process.

Stephen C. Bannon

Great Barrington

The writer is chairman of the BHRSD School Committee.

 

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