School officials had hoped the Massachusetts School Building Authority would be amenable to renovating or building two K-7 schools to address the city's space issues with closure of Conte Middle School.
The committee had opted to present a new Greylock School and a renovated Conte as its preference. Now the committee has to decide on one 310-student school — or build a 620-student school.
On Thursday night, the committee reviewed the options again in hopes of getting more input from the community, but the audience at Drury High School was sparse.
"We need to get more dialogue," said Carl Weber of Strategic Building Solutions, trying to encourage input on the Greylock plans. "This doesn't feel good."
For the most part, the options were similar to those reviewed over the past year with the exception of two new footprints for Sullivan Elementary School. Parents last year had reacted angrily at suggestions that the Kemp Avenue school be shuttered in favor of a renovated Conte in the downtown.
The Sullivan options by Margo Jones Architects were placing a three-story school on Kemp Park with limited parking and play area. The ballfield couldn't be moved to the current school location because of the sharp incline.
Building a new Sullivan in place would also mean a three-story building with even less room for play and retaining walls of 15-20 feet on the steeper side. Building in place would extensive site work and relocating the children at a cost of $1.5 million to $2.5 million, none of which would be reimbursed by the state.
A new sketch for Sullivan School shows the tight fit at the current site. Left, Max Quinn talked about his experiences at the city's new and old schools.
Several parents in the audience expressed doubt over the use of Conte, describing it as "dark and dingy" and its location on a heavily traveled road as potentially dangerous for youngsters.
The other options are to renovate Greylock, build a new Greylock or build a "super" Greylock for 620 students.
The consultants, put on the spot, declined to say which option they thought best but rather offered the committee their impressions.
"You've expreseed over and over again that you do not want to put middle school students back in a large facility," said Margo Jones. "I think it's fair to say that the one for the 310 is better."
Weber said it was up to the community make the selection, adding it was a tough choice that many school districts with aging buildings have had to make.
"The idea is that they're all three equal," he said. "The building does everything that needs to be done accordig to MSBA standards so each option you see is fulfilling the educational requirements — the sizes, the spaces of the classes, ADA, fire supression, all that stuff — it's all taken care of in each one of these."
The 310 schools are designed for two classes in each grade; the 620 for four. Some in the audience asked if there could be a mid-sized school that would take the pressure off. Jones said the next size would be 450 — three classes per grade.
School Building Options
Cost in Millions
Sullivan at Kemp
Superintendent James Montepare said that size would be difficult in aligning classes and staffing along the K-7 model now being used; rather, the middle school students could find themselves at one school again. It would mean throwing out the current standards and starting again, said school officials.
Max Quinn, a Drury High student and member of the School Building Committee, said he had attended old Conte and new Brayton Elementary School - which was not his neighborhood school.
"A school is a school and if a child feels welcome [at Conte] as I did, as a good portion of my fellow classmants did, a child will feel safe and comfortable and feel quite able to learn," he said. "Let's not just think about the current conditions, those will change."
Paperwork has to be in by March 5 to make the next SBA board meeting on March 28. If not, the project will have to wait another two months. Mayor Richard Alcombright said he expects the committee to make a decision at the end of the month.
He encouraged residents to attend the next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 29, at 6:30 p.m. in the Drury auditorium.
"Continue to give us our thoughts and input ... please come back to the meeting and bring a friend — bring two friends."
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Since the overcrowding problem is at Brayton in Greylock, then it seems that building a new school in Greylock is the obvious choice to alleviate this problem. Kids will be lining up from Brayton to try out the new school and it will have the least impact on redistricting. Who wouldn’t want a new school in their backyard? It will raise the property values. Not much of the public showed up to the meeting. But of those who did, 100% denounced the Conte option. There's just no place for the kids to run and play. There should have never been a school there. The argument was made by one of the committee members that today’s school schedules don't include much time for physical activities anyhow so it shouldn't be a factor in the decision. Not enough physical activity is a huge part of the problem with our educational system today. Human beings must balance mental and physical exercise to achieve maximum potential. We just get bored sitting in the classroom and after a period of time we shut down and learn nothing. Please let’s look at the big picture for the future of our children and our city
I don't read anything about the Mayor saying anything about the city building a 310 student school under the budget as he did before and not costing the taxpayer anything, so if we build a 620 or biger does this mean we only pay Half and the budget picks up the rest? and loog all of of the cost about moving the Supt. 100K or so, Why can't he move into cityhall for free and save us money?
Editor: A 620-school would require a Prop 2 1/2 debt exclusion; a 310-school should cost about the same as the current debt for Drury and Brayton, which is almost paid. Rebuilding Sullivan and renovating Greylock could cost more because of nonreimbursable items. Those numbers have not changed over the past year.
I like the current layout as a parent. If they want to build a new school, build a bigger one at greylock or kemp and bus the kids there. I don't like the 6-8 layout. Drury is doing a great job with the eighth graders and they should remain there.
crouds If you want to see people show up for something then just try for an override . An override is not needed if the mayor and city council would just use the parking meters and the Governors new Health Care Law. So please no whining about money.
I do like elementary for grades K-7 and leave 8th grade at Drury. Seems to be more room over by Greylock to build the new 310 school but Im not opposed to the Kemp Park location if it works. Sounds like theres no support to rebuild Conte so build the new school where it would cost less. Would the cost be different at Kemp or Greylock?
Spend 60 million and it will not bring up the test score of 1 kid. Now that is a good investment.
Editor feel free to burry the truth or make me out to be liar after all I am not the mayor or a council person. For they are the only truth tellers.
The new Greylock at 27.7 million and at a cost of 5.6 million, it is the most affordable way, and the direction for the taxpayer of the for the 9th poorest community to go in. Conte is not worth the cost, nor worth utilizing as a school. All we can do as taxpayers, and voters is watch, listen, and learn. However, if the current city govenrment, Mayor and Council members continue to fail us, and not do what is in the overall best interest of the people picking up the tab. We must call for change, and vote them out during the next elections.