High school project costs prohibitive for some

I was sitting in the kitchen when Murray the dog walked over. He sat down beside my chair, looked up at me and said, “Hey, Pops, I have a few questions for you.” I love Murray and when he asks, I am always happy to answer. After all, he spent time with the Literacy Network of South Berkshire, where they taught him not only to speak several languages but to write them as well.

“Sure, Murray,” I said. “What do you want to know?”

“Well, my brother Jonas and sister Sarah had terrific educations at Monument Mountain Regional High School. The folks who run the place wanted to bring it up to snuff with terrific up-to-date science labs and security improvements but the project didn’t get all the votes it needed under the law in Massachusetts. Since the voters gave the go-ahead to our huge new fire house and our improved library and sewer system and the Main Street reconstruction process, how come they didn’t go along with this project? Seems to me that education is very important,” he said.

“Murray,” I said to the little fur ball, “the project seemed just too big for the Great Barrington voters. It would have meant really substantial increases in the tax bills and they knew it. I have no doubt they wanted to do right by the town’s children but I guess you can’t always get what you want. The wonderful thing about Great Barrington is that it has always been a mixed economy town and I think that some of the folks who live here are getting very close to not being able to make ends meet. I suspect that’s the best answer I can give you.”

“Well, Pops, did you vote for the project?”

“I did, Murray,” I said, “but I knew that our tax bill would have risen substantially. I wanted to make sure that the kids who are growing up in the neighborhood had their shot.”

“But, Pops,” said the world’s cutest dog, “a lot of kids in our neighborhood go to private schools like Rudolph Steiner. Maybe those parents didn’t vote for schools that their kids might not go to.”

“Maybe,” I said,” but a lot of those kids do go on to Monument Mountain and they have wonderful parents who would never be so selfish.”

“Well, Pops, Jimmy the dachshund from down the street said he heard about a meeting where the educational leaders were discussing getting another vote or downsizing the project. Do you think that will happen?”

“It probably will, Murray dear, but those pushing it will have a big problem. They have already implied that the state matching funds would not be available for a lesser project. Now if it turns out that the state will kick something in, people might scratch their beards and think they had been led astray. Also, they might think that their votes don’t mean much. On the other hand, they might just be satisfied that a more reasonable project was proposed. I will certainly vote for it.”

“Maybe just one more question, Pops?” Isn’t Tony Simotes at Shakespeare and Company doing a great job over there? My friend Wolfy Wolfhound told me that a few members of their board aren’t happy with him.”

“Murray, Tony is doing a great job. He’s much in demand as a director and he’s got Shakespeare in the black. What more could they want? I hope that he’s not being undercut by the people who used to run the place before he got there. They’re the ones who got Shakespeare and Company into financial difficulty in the first place. I’ll look into the rumor, Murray, and I’ll be back to you with a more complete answer.”

“Thanks, Pops, I love you.”

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 11/23/13

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