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School Building Authority Moves Conte Project Forward

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The old Drury High School is retrogressing through education and is slated to become an elementary school in the next few years.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city has been given the go ahead to revamp Conte Middle School.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority Board of Directors on Wednesday morning voted unanimously to move the project onto the schematic design stage.

"We were very, very pleased," said Mayor Richard Alcombright, who attended the meeting in Boston with Superintendent of School James Montepare.

He said there were not questions after his brief presentations but the two had been quizzed at the Facilities Assessment Subcommittee meeting on May 2.

"They had concerns about renovating an old building, those types of things," Alcombright said. "I think our answers to them and our commitment to that school really came through well this morning, because the people who were on the board who were also on the committee prior to, did not ask any further questions."

The former high school building was selected earlier this year to be renovated into a kindergarten-through-7 elementary school and will replace the aging Sullivan School on Kemp Avenue. The MSBA had shot down a proposal by the city to do two projects at once — the Conte renovation and rebuild of Greylock Elementary — as its solution to educating 620 students.

The school project was prompted by the overcrowding of the elementary school after the closure of Conte three years ago and the reconfiguration of the school system into Grades K-7 and 8-12.

Alcombright said the city's project manager Carl Weber of Strategic Building Solutions would be developing a new schedule within the next week or so for the design phase. After the schematic design is approved by the MSBA, the mayor will have 120 to secure the bonding. That would be a City Council vote.

Montepare said the administration and faculty have had input throughout the process and that will continue through the design phase.

"The general theme as far as space and how to use it and common areas and 21st centuray learning, they always ask for our input," he said. The school district is working with an educational consultant during the process.

The superintedent said he was impressed at how much good the MSBA was doing in education, saying Chairman and State Treasurer Steven Grossman had given some history of the authority and how some $75 million was being targeted to retooling buildings for science and technology education.
"It made us kind of wish were at that level," he said. "But I'm happy with a new school."

There will be no more public hearings but the School Building Committee will be meeting more frequently and all meetings will be open to the public, said the mayor.

"We're really pleased that it shows we have a strong committment from the MSBA, which we didn't doubt, and we think from our School Builidng Committee, School Committee and City Council, and certainly from the community at large for the most part," said Alcombright.

Tags: Conte School,   school project,   

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