D-Y School Committee Works on Updating Regional Agreement

Brian Carey, member of the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School Committee

YARMOUTH – Big changes could soon be made to the regional agreement for the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District.

The regional school committee is working on a proposal that would change how operating and construction costs are divided between the two towns.

A new agreement would stop a lawsuit from Yarmouth over the new $117 million middle school and guarantee over $44 million in funding from the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

Yarmouth Selectmen voted in January to sue the school district over the process used to win approval for the new middle school, which bypassed town meetings and passed by just 25 votes during a district-wide vote.

Officials in Yarmouth said they will drop the lawsuit if a new regional agreement is approved by both towns this spring.

The legal action could jeopardize the $44 million in state funding. District school officials must sign a letter of commitment with the MSBA by April 11 to secure the funding. The letter of commitment cannot be completed if litigation or a threat of legal action remains.

Yarmouth officials have been seeking a new regional agreement with Dennis for several years.

Current operating costs are based on the number of students each town sends to district schools.

The new proposal would use the foundation formula, which is a five-year rolling average of all students for whom the district is financially responsible.

“That includes all students who go to D-Y schools, all students who go to charter schools or choice,” said Brian Carey, a Regional School Committee member.

“It does not include parochial schools or private schools.”

Changing the method for dividing construction costs could be made through three different proposals.

The first split up costs using the foundation formula when the bond is issued for a new facility.

A second option would calculate costs using five-year rolling foundation enrollment figures.

The first and second options would both split the costs for gyms, auditoriums and offices equally.

A third option would set a permanent percentage split.

A school committee subcommittee has been discussing possible changes for three weeks and brought some of the changes to the full school committee Monday night.

“The committee endorsed a good portion of them,” Carey said.

The subcommittee met again Tuesday night and will bring a proposal back to the full school committee Monday, March 11.

“It is our effort to put something on the table that both boards of Selectmen and appointed members of the towns would approve and support on Town Meeting floor,” Carey said. “But ultimately it is up to the voters.”

A new agreement must be approved by the full school committee and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education before going to town meeting in both communities.

“It can’t be changed in any way,” Carey said. “The same agreement has to pass at both town meetings.”

Several Yarmouth residents called on the Board of Selectmen to drop its proposed lawsuit last week.

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