An Election Year
This year’s first Election Day is just around the corner! Hawleyites (and everyone else in Massachusetts) will go to the polls on Tuesday, March 5, for the state and national primary. (It’s the first of three elections in 2024!)
Make sure you are registered to vote. People who did not fill out last year’s street-listing census form and return it to the Town Clerk have been taken off the voter rolls. The last day to register to vote is 10 days before the election, Friday, February 24. Get in touch with our town clerk, Donna Lemoine, if you have questions.
Donna is still looking for people to work at the polls. The pay for this isn’t huge, but the work is crucial to the functioning of democracy in our small town—and the camaraderie at the Town Office during elections is a lot of fun. For more information, email Donna at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Town Office (413-339-5518) to leave a message for her.
Broadband: Where Are We?
As many Hawleyites know, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute recently solicited applications to install fiberoptic cable in underserved Massachusetts Communities like Hawley. The deadline for the first round of funding fell in mid-December. One company, Charter Communications, applied to serve Hawley. We won’t know until next month whether Charter was awarded the funding. If it was not (the MBI has a variety of criteria, and Charter may not have met all of them), there will be other deadlines in the spring and summer, and other entities may apply. So the answer to the question “Where Are We?” is that we don’t know—but we hope to soon.
The note below comes from Superintendent Sheryl Stanton and our school-committee chairs. It looks complicated, but the bottom line is that the administration is looking for community volunteers. You don’t have to sign up for anything onerous, but if you have an interest in education and our kids, consider at least expressing interest.
Dear Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont Communities,
We are excited to announce that Phase II of our Sustainability Study is ready to launch! Fully funded by a Massachusetts Community Compact Grant, this work will build upon the data collected for Mohawk Trail in Phase I (completed in 2023), add data specific to Hawlemont, and address the challenges associated with adequately funding our rural schools that were outlined in 2015-16 by the BEST Committee – stagnant levels of state aid, increasing fixed costs and demographic changes that have resulted in steep declines in enrollment.
Our goals for Phase II are:
- To ensure that the communities that comprise our Districts are fully informed about the issues we face;
- To gather input from our constituents; and
- To create potential operating models that offer a more sustainable future for our schools and our member towns. These models will then be presented for community consideration and discussion.
We will partner with BERK12, a group with extensive experience in collaboratively developing short- and long-term solutions for rural schools and communities with the aim of ensuring the highest quality educational experiences for our children. With their expertise and assistance, Phase II will involve
- Collecting (and/or updating) and analyzing data on current conditions within the Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont Regional School Districts in the critical areas of enrollment, fiscal conditions, educational programming, and building infrastructure, and project future conditions in each area.
- Developing, studying, and evaluating potential future operating alternatives – including maintaining the current operating structure (i.e., two districts educating students in four separate buildings) – and assess the advantages and disadvantages of each.
- Proposing a long-term plan for providing a high-quality education for the Districts’ students in a way that is financially sustainable for the Districts’ taxpayers.
In all aspects of the Phase II work, input from our communities – town officials, parents, teachers, students and interested citizens – will be critical, and there will be many opportunities for community members to become involved. In the coming weeks, be on the lookout for information on the ways you can participate!
The most immediate task will be building a Project Steering Committee, which will oversee the work of BERK12. We envision a Committee of about 15 members from across the member towns and constituencies of the Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont Districts. If you might be interested in becoming a member of this Steering Committee and would like to learn more about the duties and obligations of Committee members, please fill out this brief survey or contact one of your School Committee representatives by Friday, January 17, 2024. (A list of School Committee members and their email addresses can be found here.)
To keep up to date on Phase II activities, as well as learn about other opportunities to participate as this effort gains steam, please visit 2Districts8Towns.org any time after January 20 – and return often!
Thank you for all you do to make Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont great places to learn and grow!
Sheryl Stanton, Superintendent
Elizabeth Van Iderstine/Martha Thurber, School Committee Chairs
Don’t forget winter crafting at the Tyler Memorial Library this Thursday, January 18, from 5 to 7 p.m.—or the Climate Café on Saturday, January 27, at 1 p.m.
Happy Martin Luther King Day! I hope you stay nice and warm on this sunny but chilly day as we remember MLK and celebrate the ongoing work to make our nation a more perfect and equitable union.
Town of Hawley
8 Pudding Hollow Road
Hawley, MA 01339