Gateway towns seek state grant

HUNTINGTON – The Gateway Towns Advisory Committee (GTAC) will meet this Saturday from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in Stanton Hall to give an update and presentation on the progress of the Gateway Collaborative Task Force.
The presentation is being prepared for a public forum tentatively scheduled for October 15 in Stanton Hall to launch the Task Force.
A working group met last week to strategize on future steps, and how to get support for their efforts. Derrick Mason, GTAC co-moderator, said the group is working on setting up a meeting with the Governor’s staff in Springfield to discuss the task force, and to ask for support in the form of a grant. The group is interested in hiring the services of a consultant to help look at short- and long-term solutions to allow the school district and towns to continue to provide a quality education, to improve the economic infrastructure in the towns, and to attain financial stability for the district.
Mason said that Southern and Northern Berkshire counties have both formed task forces, but they are focused solely on education.
“We’re looking for that, plus trying to resolve some of the economic infrastructure issues,” he said. “We look at it more holistically.”
Mason also said that Gateway and the School Committee are working on a visioning process of their own. He said the task force needs to incorporate what they’re doing, and end up on the same page.
“Not necessarily on the same page,” Joseph Kearns of Middlefield. “But in the same direction.”
Several members of the working group will be sharing the presentation with their select boards in hopes of getting them on board before the public launch. State officials will also be invited to the public forum.
Other topics for discussion at this Saturday’s GTAC meeting will include updates on the current school budget crisis, including Gateway’s budget and state funding for FY 2016, Wired West progress in the hilltowns, and GTAC priorities for the next few months.
Concerned residents of the seven Gateway District towns, members of Select Boards and Finance Committees, Gateway teachers, staff and leadership are urged to participate in this monthly conference which addresses regional issues.
For more information, contact GTAC co-moderators, Darlene McVeigh 413-667-3049 or Derrick Mason 413-364-3453.

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