RAWG votes unanimously on governance 8:30 PMLast night the Regional Agreement Working Group (RAWG) voted unanimously to recommend forming a system of representation via committee that significantly shortchanges Amherst, a college town where our #1 industry is education.
Currently Amherst makes up 88% of the population in the Amherst Regional School District, where all four towns participate at the Middle and High School level. Yet if all four towns should decide to regionalize in the Pre-K to 6th grade level, the new Regional School Committee will consist of 13 members, seven from Amherst and two from each of the three Hilltowns.
Of course that doesn't help much if each of the Hilltowns only has two candidates running for the two open seats.
And as part of this endeavor our elementary schools will no longer be overseen by the Amherst School Committee, because the Amherst School Committee will no longer exist. Although once rubber stamped by the current Regional School Committee the new arrangement must be approved by all four Town Meetings even if the town does not plan to join the new Region.
RAWG also discussed at length the budgets and how a Regional Assessment would work. And clearly it will be more expensive for Amherst -- by as much as $347,901 in the first year of transition.
Amherst Region Public Schools -- at $18,688 -- already have the highest per student cost in the area, well over the $13,636 state average.
Even though RAWG in one form or another has been meeting for almost three years the sense of urgency in the room last night to get this Leviathan operational was almost palpable.
Andy Steinberg briefly handed off Chair duties to Kip Fonsh so he could speak freely. Steinberg, who was most recently elected to the Amherst Select Board, acknowledged the controversy over proportional representation for Amherst but spoke in support of the motion as made.
Superintendent Maria Geryk then announced the janitor was leaving the building at 9:00 PM, so the meeting had to be over by then.
The Regional Agreement Working Group soon came to a unanimous vote supporting the 13 member committee, with Amherst getting 7 seats.
But is that any way to lay the groundwork for a $42 million regional entity?
Although, the janitor seemed pleased.