RAWG: Three members per town (Amherst, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury)
Although they didn't click their ruby red shoes three times while chanting magic words, the 12 member Regional School District Planning Board magically became the Regional Agreement Working Group on Saturday morning, now an official sub-committee of the 9 member Regional School Committee.
The front line Dirty Dozen has been meeting for two years trying to craft a plan to expand the four town Region from grades 7-12 all the way down to kindergarten. Both the Regional Middle School and Regional High School are physically located in Amherst, and our town makes up 88% of the region by population.
The other three towns -- Leverett, Pelham and Shutesbury -- makes up the remaining 12% of the Region.
Thus Amherst is a very large dog with a very small tail.
Proportional representation on the new Regional School Committee (if the notion of the expanded Region should receive support of three out of four Town Meetings) will be a major issue, as Amherst should have the vast majority of committee make up.
But the three Hilltowns can be a tad ethnocentric, and at least one of them points to the divisive years when Amherst School Committee member Catherine Sanderson tried to bring positive change to the sacred cow education system and was gored in the upheaval.
Amherst Select Board member (and former long-time School Committee member) Alisa Brewer has agreed to temporarily replace Andy Steinberg as Chair of the committee so he can have more time to campaign for Select Board in the upcoming March 25 election.
During public comment Amherst Town Meeting member Janet McGowan pointed out none of the current 12 committee members has children in the elementary schools and perhaps the committee should be expanded to include those important stakeholders.
The group hopes to have a proposal crafted and sent to the Regional School Committee by the end of May. Once approved by a two-thirds vote of the Regional School Committee the new entity must then be approved by three out of four Town Meetings, optimistically speaking, in the fall.