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By Katina Caraganis

MediaNews

TOWNSEND — The North Middlesex Regional School Committee decided to continue analyzing whether regionalizing their district with the Lunenburg School District is in their best interest.

A committee of members from both districts, which met July 25, has made little progress, and North Middlesex representatives say bringing a fourth town into their district may be a hard sell to the communities of Ashby, Pepperell and Townsend.

North Middlesex representatives on the regional-expansion committee expressed concern in July that any money saved by building a regional high school would be offset by the increase in assessments to Ashby, Townsend and Pepperell.

North Middlesex School Superintendent Maureen Marshall said it would likely be a wash in terms of savings.

Committee member Ken Brown asked that a financial analysis be done to make sure there would be no cost savings for the district if it chooses to regionalize with Lunenburg.

“I don’t dispute any of the findings by the committee. We went down this road at the request of the Massachusetts School Building Authority and not either district,” he said. “We’ve invested an incredible amount of time and energy on the side of both districts.”

He continued, “Dr. Marshall, you say it’s a wash, but I think it would be of value to have a financial analysis done that shows that. I do think it would be worthwhile to finish the project and show that. I’m not trying to make more work for people, but if I’m the Massachusetts School Building Authority, I would want to see it.”

Instead of paying someone to do the work, School Committee member Arnold Silva offered to crunch the numbers and present them at their next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 26.

School Committee member Rob Templeton, who is also on the expansion committee, said last night that it is not in the best interest to regionalize.

“It’s my opinion that this is not something we should continue to pursue. I think the financial parts are a big part of it,” he said. “The likelihood of all four member towns approving this is less than ideal and at this point, I would recommend that North Middlesex not pursue this further.”

School Committee Chairman Susan Robbins said she struggled with the decision, but ultimately said she wasn’t sure Lunenburg was committed to joining with North Middlesex.

“We’re already a district and we have a reasonable size and we have a lot to offer. I think Lunenburg would gain a lot from joining our district but I do struggle with the feasibility,” she said. “I’m not sure we should be spending more time, money, and energy into this when I’m really not convinced the Lunenburg committee has an appetite for this.”