Towns to vote on cross-border school merger

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The towns of Stamford and Clarksburg, Massachusetts, would make history if they merge their elementary schools across state lines.

But any such bragging rights must first clear a vote Monday in the southern Vermont town, then another by its would-be partner.

Residents of Stamford are being called to a special town meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at the Stamford School to back or reject the idea of entering into an interstate merger with the Clarksburg School.

If that vote passes, officials in Clarksburg will call a special town meeting as well, according to Ron Boucher, a Select Board member and acting town administrator.

"If they put it down, there's no need to plan a special town meeting," Boucher said of the pending decision in Vermont. "We'll see how the outcome is on that."

If Stamford says yes, the Clarksburg Select Board could set a meeting date at its next session. The board meets at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Ketchum Memorial Room in Town Hall at 111 River Road.

Cindy Lamore, chair of the Stamford School Committee, has told The Eagle the merger issue goes beyond trying to save money in hard-pressed small towns. "It's also about the opportunities available for the students," she said in an April interview.

In a post on the Stamford website, Lamore noted that Monday's vote does not yet bind the town to join with Clarksburg.

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"This vote will show both states that each town's voters approve of moving forward and help us gather much needed information," she wrote.

Boucher said many steps lie ahead for a merger, if residents of the towns show support. The merger would need approvals at the state and federal levels.

"This is still a ways down the road before anything actually happens," Boucher said. "It's a pretty big do-do. If it works it would be a big deal."

In late April, a Boston firm, Public Consulting Group, shared findings from months of research into the merger question. Both towns paid for a feasibility study.

Stamford's vote Monday would be to support or reject a plan to fully combine classes at the schools, which lie within four miles of each other.

That arrangement would use the Stamford School to provide prekindergarten through Grade 2 classes, according to Lamore. The Clarksburg school would house Grades 3 through 8.

Graduates of both schools already attend high school in the northern Berkshires, either McCann Tech or Drury High School.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.


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