Pioneer Valley, Gill-Montague School Districts considering possible merger

Franklin County

TURNERS FALLS, Mass. (WWLP) – Like many rural western Massachusetts school districts, the Pioneer Valley and Gill-Montague schools face declining enrollment and financial difficulties.

A preliminary study found forming a “super region” combining both the Pioneer Valley and Gill-Montague School Districts is a good idea.

“What they found is kind of exciting. It looks like we could not just save a lot of money, but then potentially use that money to reinvest in our schools,” said Gill-Montague Superintendent of Schools Michael Sullivan.

And at the secondary level, Sullivan told 22News, they can increase enrollment and enhance education by combining both high schools.

While cost savings certainly has appeal, Montague’s Town Administrator Steven Ellis told 22News, the ability to provide a robust education is worth considering a merger. “The goal of a planning committee would be to better ascertain what is possible, at what cost, with what economic and educational benefits, and trade-offs.”

A decision has yet to be made.

Sullivan said the ball is now in Pioneer’s court to decide whether they want to move forward with a planning board — comprised of smaller planning committees that would involve town governments — to see if a starting a new school district from scratch is a viable option.

Sullivan told 22News, if they agree to move forward it would take about three years to complete.

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