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Education Task Force Seeks Community Input, Aspirations
02:39PM / Monday, April 10, 2017
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Berkshire County Education Task Force is seeking input as it develops recommendations for county schools. 
 
Five "community aspiration" meetings are scheduled this month for parents, educators and community members to share expectations, aspirations, and concerns for the future of preK-12 public education in Berkshire County.
 
The first session is this Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Church Street Center.
 
Despite having high-quality educators, say task force officials, the educational opportunities available to children and young people in Berkshire County are threatened by the region's shrinking population, declining student enrollment, increasing mandated costs, stagnating state aid to education, and increasing inability of local taxpayers to make up the difference for what is needed.   
 
A crisis is already developing in some county municipalities and school districts. It will spread to many others in coming years unless timely and effective action is taken.
 
The Berkshire County Education Task Force is composed of 28 civic, educational, and business leaders from throughout the county who have been volunteering their personal time and meeting every third Saturday morning since July 2015. The members' core belief is that it is the right of every child and young person in Berkshire County to receive a high-quality education.  
 
Recognizing that the educational rights of our children are now threatened, the BCETF was created to develop sound, sustainable recommendations to our county's city and town officials, school committees, and local residents on how to enhance educational opportunities throughout the county while putting schools on a sustainable economic footing.
 
Task force officials say this is a critical moment and that they seek to understand more fully the aspirations that families, educators, students, and community members have for PreK-12 education in Berkshire County.  
 
The BCETF needs to hear from members of Berkshire County's many and diverse communities about what matters most to parents, students, and all interested citizens in our county's public education system. What are parents, students, and interested citizens — looking toward the future — believe our schools need to preserve and what they need to change?  What are the programs, services, and opportunities our children most need now and into the future?
 
The meetings are scheduled for:
 
Tuesday, April 11, 6 p.m.; MCLA Church Street Center, North Adams
 
• Monday, April 24, 7 p.m.; Berkshire South Regional Community Center, Great Barrington
 
• Tuesday, April 25, 12:15 p.m. and 6 p.m.; Susan B. Anthony Lounge, Berkshire Community College
 
• Tuesday, April 25, 6 p.m.; Wahconah Country Club, Dalton 
 
Additional meetings are being held with educators and student focus groups throughout the county.
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