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Renewable Vibes > News > Sustainable Living > Phase 2 of the sustainability study is being launched by the Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont districts, as reported by the Greenfield Recorder.

Phase 2 of the sustainability study is being launched by the Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont districts, as reported by the Greenfield Recorder.

The Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont regional school districts are undertaking Phase 2 of a sustainability study in an effort to reorganize and address the challenges faced by rural schools. The study is being led by educational resource company BERK12 and is fully funded by a Massachusetts Community Compact grant.

According to Sheryl Stanton, superintendent of the Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont districts, Phase 2 will involve examining existing data and identifying any additional data needed. The districts will engage in conversations with the community and staff to discuss potential changes and strategies that will lead to sustainability in the district.

To begin Phase 2, the districts have established an advisory committee that includes representation from all member towns. This committee will consider the districts’ current conditions and initiate community engagement activities until May. Stanton expressed excitement about the steering committee, which consists of parents, staff, community members, and town officials representing each town in the region.

The sustainability study is necessary because the two districts have faced level enrollment, level state aid, and increasing expenses in recent years. This has placed a significant burden on the towns to fund the schools. Stanton argues that further regionalization is not a viable solution for Mohawk Trail, which is already the largest district in the state geographically. The sustainability study aims to explore alternative solutions to address the unique challenges faced by rural schools.

One example of rural hardship is the transportation of students with physical and developmental disabilities who require special education. These students often have to travel long distances to schools that can provide specialized help. Stanton explained that transportation costs for these students can be twice as much as their education costs, as the state does not reimburse transportation expenses for special education students.

Phase 1 of the sustainability study focused on collecting foundational data, while Phase 2 will create feasible models for potential reorganization. The next phase will involve implementing the suggestions generated in Phase 2. For instance, Stanton suggested the possibility of bringing certain grade levels from the elementary schools to Mohawk Trail Regional School. The organization will determine what amendments to the regional agreement are needed to facilitate such a change.

The timeline for the next year includes examining data across various functional domains, generating options and opportunities, modeling and evaluating options, and developing a final report and plan for the next steps.

Stanton highlighted the ongoing work in the state Legislature to advocate for more funding for rural schools. While increased funding would be beneficial, she emphasized the need for more flexibility around programming to bring about meaningful change in rural districts.

Stanton believes that understanding the stressors and solutions for rural districts is crucial and the first step towards addressing the unique challenges they face.

For updates on the sustainability study, interested individuals can visit the website Bella Levavi can be contacted at 413-930-4579 or

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