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Shutesbury to hold school regionalization forum

— A forum will be held Feb. 27 at the Shutesbury Elementary School to discuss plans to regionalize the elementary schools of Shutesbury, Leverett, Amherst and Pelham.

The session will provide a chance for the Shutesbury Regional School District Planning Committee to get feedback from the community. Each of the towns involved has a three-person committee that will meet in the next few weeks to discuss regionalization. Leverett’s forum will be held Feb. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at the Leverett Elementary School. Pelham and Amherst are both meeting March 2 at 10 a.m. Pelham’s forum will be held in the Ramsdell Room of the Pelham Library Complex and Amherst’s forum will be held in the Amherst Regional High School library.

The 12-member Regional School District Planning Board, will meet on March 9 to decide whether to recommend moving forward with regionalization to the town select boards.

Becky Torres, a member of the Shutesbury regional school planning committee, says that if the board decides to recommend regionalization, it will take another six months of work to hammer out the details of the proposal. Each community would then bring it to its town meeting for a vote.

Torres says that, if approved, the plan to regionalize would not affect the schools until September 2014 at the earliest.

“We already have a high level of education in the schools,” said Torres. “The driving concern (behind regionalization) is the continued ability for communities to maintain a high quality of education at a lower cost.”

All of the towns involved are already regionalized at the secondary-school level. One of the issues up for discussion is whether to regionalize the elementary schools together with the high school or separately.

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