D-Y School Committee to Review Regional Agreement

YARMOUTH – As tensions continue to build between Dennis and Yarmouth over the costs associated with the regional school system, the school committee will begin to look at updating the agreement between the towns.

Just weeks after Yarmouth Selectmen approved exploring options for removing grades 4 through 7 from the district, the school committee supported the formation of a subcommittee to review possible changes.

School Committee member Brian Carey said there are several issues both towns would like to see addressed in a new agreement.

“The main two things would be shared costs, such as superintendent’s costs and things of that nature and also how the towns would share the new building’s proportion of the bill,” Carey said.

Under the current agreement, which is based on town enrollment, plans for a new regional middle school would have Yarmouth covering about two-thirds of the costs not picked up by the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

Yarmouth is seeking a 50/50 split for a proposed new middle school and administrative costs.

For a new regional agreement to be accepted by both towns, Carey said selectmen and finance committee members need to buy in.

“They have to put personalities aside and deal with principals,” Carey said. “And deal with what’s best for the education of the students in the long-term for D-Y and what’s best for their towns.”

Carey said the process to update the regional agreement would take at least a year if a new pact were agreed to by both towns today.

An agreement would need to go to the state for verification becoming back to Dennis and Yarmouth for Town Meetings.

“It’s not like there is a new regional agreement on the horizon in the next several months,” Carey said.

Changing demographics in recent years have led to an increase in Yarmouth’s percentage of the total population. The increase has led to Yarmouth needing to approve Proposition 2 and ½ overrides the last two years to cover its portion of the regional school budget.

Officials from both towns began discussing a possible update to the regional agreement last year but talk halted during the spring.

Dennis official were hoping to continue talks after Town Meeting season, but Yarmouth officials have not agreed to meet due to what they believe is an unwillingness to compromise from Dennis.

In July, the Regional School Committee decided to put the proposal for the new $120 million middle school before a districtwide vote.

A district vote would bypass Town Meetings, which would require a two-thirds majority in both communities. By heading straight to the ballots it would only need a majority of all voters in the district.

School committee members who were in favor of skipping Town Meeting argued that putting the project to a districtwide vote would be a quicker process, if passed, and save the district money if the school was delayed after a failed Town Meeting vote.

The MSBA would reimburse the district approximately $60 million.

If the measure passes at the districtwide vote, the new school could be open as early as 2021.

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