Mohawk Trail School Leader Calls For Charter To Close

Nov 29, 2017

A school superintendent in western Massachusetts has asked the state board of elementary and secondary education not to renew a charter school.

Mohawk Trail Regional School District Superintendent Michael Buoniconti said Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield is doing a good job with students. But he said it saps students and money from all the rural public schools around it -- which are facing declining enrollment.

If the charter were not renewed, Buoniconti said, students in this rural part of the state would still have excellent options.

"You would divert money back to the schools, where we desperately need them, which would serve 5,000 kids as opposed to 220 kids," he said. 

The principal at Four Rivers, Peter Garbus, said in a phone interview that he understands Mohawk Trail and other rural districts are facing hard times. But he said his school is only one small piece in that enrollment decline.

"While I recognize that any student lost hurts, they have much bigger concerns around kids who are leaving for private school, or other school choice or are even home-schooled," Garbus said.

Garbus said the state should consider his school's record when deciding whether to renew its charter for another five years. 

Jill Kaufman and Sam Hudzik contributed to this report.