Williamstown School Committee Talks Special Education Collaboration

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Article Author: Stephen Dravis
Publication Name: iberkshires.com
Article Date: 1/28/2017
Article URL: http://www.iberkshires.com/story/53819/Williamstown-School-Committee-Talks-Special-Education-Collaboration.html

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — A collaborative agreement among North County school districts could save money and improve outcomes for special needs students throughout the district, an official working on the collaboration told the Williamstown School Committee on Wednesday.

North Adams Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Malkas said she’d seen the benefits of educational collaboratives when leading the public schools in the Worcester County town of Webster.

“I know from experience there that the services that could be provided to students through collaboratives provided tremendous cost savings to a district,” Malkas said. “I recognized there was a tremendous need in North Adams and North Berkshire in general.”

Malkas said she and her fellow superintendents are working to develop an educational collaborative in the region — work that dovetails with that of the countywide Berkshire County Education Task Force, which also gave a presentation at Wednesday’s meeting.

A collaborative, Malkas said, could save North County districts money on professional development opportunities for staff, bulk buying and transportation services. But much of her talk focused on the potential for collaboratives to improve special education programs — both from the perspective of the bottom line and the quality of student experiences.

According to a memo provided to the committee, some students in the region are placed in programs “up to 130 miles from the home district.” Administrators believe that a North County collaborative could provide the same services at a lower cost and and without the transportation burden.

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