The state School Building Authority visited Williamstown last Thursday to see first hand the multitude of problems Mount Greylock Regional School needs to repair.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The state School Building Authority spent a few hours doing a "senior study" at Mount Greylock Regional High School last week, which the organization does only for schools consider a priority.
School officials and members of the Building Subcommittee were questioned for more than an hour about the school's statement of interest and later took MSBA officials and their consultants on a tour.
School officials are hoping to get accepted into the state program that pays a large share of the cost for building new or renovating current schools as well providing expertise on the building process.
"They wanted to explore a little more in depth about items in the statement of interest," said School Committee Chairman Robert Ericson on Tuesday. "They were kind of tough. They asked some serious questions."
MSBA officials wanted to see and understand the issues with the school first hand — rather than taking the school's word for it — as part of their due diligence for deciding which schools get invited into the program. The MSBA's website clearly says the study is "not approval of a project," and more information about the study is available.
According to Ericson, the MSBA Board will be voting on which districts are accepted into the program at its Oct. 3 and Nov. 16 meetings. If accepted, the school will need to formally join, establish a building committee (which they basically already have) and start getting the paperwork in line for a feasibility study.
"Out of [the feasibility study] come a determination of the size, shape and criteria," Ericson said.
Among the school's problems is dampness, which caused cracks in the floor tiles, poor air quality and a constant need to replace ceiling tiles.
The visit is not quite a sign of clarification for school officials, who have been debating the extent of doing repairs on their own. While the district is not yet invited into the process, the visit shows the state recognizes a need.
But, school officials do not know when any construction could begin so the Building Subcommittee is still going to decide what to fix and how much to spend.
"If we are invited, it is a resolution. If not, we have to look at spending more money to fix things," Ericson said. "The question is how we will stack up against other schools."
MSBA received a total of 280 statements of interest for 121 school districts this year — though many of those are repair projects. The organization will prioritize the state's building needs and support what project it can.
"The fact that we got selected to be analyzed is a positive sign," Ericson said. "I think they got a lot of good explanations on the issues."
According to the MSBA calendar, the organization performed a dozen senior studies in June and a half dozen in July. The study at Mount Greylock was set up in about two weeks, Ericson said.
The meeting was attended by two members of the MSBA with two consultants, Superintendent of Schools Rose Ellis, Ericson, Building Subcommittee members David Backus, Jesse Wirtes and Business Manager David Donoghue.
Ellis did not return phone calls placed to her office on Tuesday afternoon.
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