D-Y Regional Agreement May be Updated this Fall

Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School.

YARMOUTH – Changes to the regional agreement for the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District could be made this fall if approved by special town meetings in both communities.

The Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School Committee approved language this week for an article that would make two major revisions to the agreement.

One would split operational costs for the district using a five-year rolling average of foundation enrollment.

Foundation enrollment counts all students in regional schools, along with those who attend a charter school or another public school.

The other would have Dennis cover 35 percent of the cost of a proposed new regional middle school.

The increase for Dennis would be about 6 percent from what it would be in the current regional agreement.

“That would have Dennis paying slightly more than foundation formula,” said Brian Carey, a regional school committee member from Dennis.

Yarmouth recently agreed to settle a lawsuit against the school district and Dennis, which included the updates to the regional agreement.

The lawsuit had challenged the method used to approve the proposed new regional middle school.

The district put the school to a region-wide vote, bypassing town meetings. The plan passed by just 25 votes, with a majority of Yarmouth voters rejecting the school.

The lawsuit prevented the district from finalizing an agreement with the Massachusetts School Building Authority to secure $44 million in funding for the $117 million facility.

The settlement was finalized just before a Massachusetts School Building Authority deadline for signing a letter of commitment.

The deadline had been extended multiple times. The $44 million in reimbursement funds for the $117 million project remains on hold.

Town officials had said the lawsuit would be dropped in a new regional agreement could be met between the towns and the school district.

A new lawsuit was filed last week by a pair of Yarmouth residents challenging to process for approving the new school.

Carey said the school district hopes to get the state funding for the proposed school, but that it is still not guaranteed.

“The second lawsuit obviously, which I’m not going to comment much about, holds things up,” he said.

Carey said that every day that goes by without a start of construction on the new school costs money.

“The Yarmouth lawsuit probably cost well over $1 million,” Carey said. “And [this second lawsuit] is costing parts of the school as we move forward.”

Dennis Selectmen voted Monday to place the article with the two updates to the regional agreement on a special town meeting warrant.

The school committee is asking both towns to have a special town meeting on October 29.

 “It’s incredibly important not just for the communities, but also for the students and the education of the students moving forward,” Carey said. “There are outside effects that this agreement tends to patch up.”

Carey said the two communities need to work together more frequently.

A regional agreement subcommittee, which is chaired by Carey, will continue to look at further revisions to go before town meeting voters in both towns in the spring.

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