Mount Greylock Shooting for 'Eligibility' from MSBA

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The Mount Greylock Regional School District will be presenting its Statement of Interest to the School Building Authority this fall. Above, the sprung seats in the school auditorium are just one of the issues at the 50-year-old school
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The state School Building Authority will determine in the coming months whether to pass the plan for a new Mount Greylock Regional High School on to the next phase.

The school district's Statement of Interest is expected to be presented to the authority's board of directors on either Oct. 3 or Nov. 14. The agendas for those meetings are not yet available.

Representatives from the SBA toured the middle and high school this past July and quizzed the administration and School Building Subcommittee on the building's condition and their plans.

"We felt we did a well-prepared presentation," Ellis told the School Committee on Tuesday night as part of an update on district news over the summer. "They wanted to know our political and financial support, which we shared with them.

"We feel that even though we're in challenging economic times that people recognize that Mount Greylock needs replacement."

The school, estimated at $40 million to $50 million based on similar projects, is one of a number of capital projects Williamstown is discussing. The town's Finance Committee was meeting Thursday night with representatives from other boards to prioritize the list.

If approved, the school would move into a new step created by the MSBA, the "eligibility phase," which is designed to help the state agency manage funding resources and for the school districts to gauge local support.

Ellis said her perception was that the 270-day eligibility phase was to ensure school districts were able and prepared before moving on to a feasibility study.

According to the MSBA's website, school districts are required to establish and submit for acceptance a school building committee; complete certification denoting they understand the grant program rules and a design enrollment for the project; summarize the district's funding capacities and maintenance practices; confirm they have community support and funding; and execute a standard feasibility study agreement.

"The eligibility phase is for the community buy-in," said committee member David Langston.

Ellis said that was correct, but warned there was no guarantee that the SBA would continue to work with the school past the eligibility phase.

"If we don't have our ducks in a row, if we have any problems they'll say, 'we'll get back to you.'"

The school district is also expecting to apply for a regionalization grant, which could mean more points to the school project.

"The regionalization effort can inform the MSBA reimbursement to the town," said Ellis. "Actually, I think the highest percentage points are given to towns that move in that direction."

The Mount Greylock district is comprised of middle and high school students from Lanesborough and Williamstown but has an agreements with School Union 71 (Williamstown and Lanesborough elementary schools). Ellis is superintendent of all three schools as the Williamstown-Lanesborough Public Schools.

"They will give us the nod yes, we can move into the eligibility phase or no, come back with your SOI next year," said Ellis.

Still, she pointed out next year is January, which isn't so far away: "Keep a short view, we're not giving up on this."

Tags: MGRHS,   MSBA,   school project,   

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