Kim Rougeau, left, is seeking to create a preschool at Town Hall. She presented the Selectmen with a petition with 83 signatures in support.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The Selectmen on Wednesday night unanimously approved the School Committee's application to the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
The condition of the kindergarten-through-Grade 8 school has been of concern for some years and the school district last submitted an SOI in 2010. No significant renovations or reconstruction has been done since 1970, although two classrooms were added in 1977.
The town has been putting money away in a stabilization account to ensure it would have enough to fund its share of a feasibility study.
Selectmen Chairman Carl McKinney noted that the kindergarten addition was a 20-year construction but was built 40 years ago. Principal Linda Reardon said the school's gym (really a multipurpose room) is only one-third the state's recommended size.
The 2013 SOI calls for the replacement or renovation of the 60-year-old building. The letter and the Selectmen's certified vote must be submitted to the MSBA by April 10 to be considered in the next round. The feasibility study would be undertaken once invited into the program.
Submitting the SOI is no guarantee of selection: It was passed over before. Mount Greylock Regional High School also failed to be selected in the last round and has sent in an updated statement.
A new school could take into account the desire for a preschool expressed by the 83 residents who signed a petition by Kim Rougeau, and the nearly dozen who attended the Wednesday's meeting in support.
"It's been my concern for many years there was no preschool in Clarksburg," said Rougeau, who has taken her son and daughter to the program in Stamford, Vt. "It saddens me in our town we don't having anything for the youngest of our community."
Rougeau's idea was to use some of the space available in Town Hall since the school has no room. Officials have been consolidating departments and opening up room they would like to lease for revenue. The preschool could be self-supporting, similar to Stamford, depending on the number of children and tuition rate.
Principal Linda Reardon explained the School Building Authority submission process.
McKinney said he was supportive but thought Rougeau's idea of asking for money out of the school stabilization fund to have a contractor or engineer reveiw and estimate cost was problematic since it would require a two-thirds vote at town meeting.
He suggested she put a committee together first to research the idea. "I know they can be laborious but there are a lot of issues," he said. He said he would support putting a separate article on the town meeting warrant to take funds from free cash or to raise and appropriate (which would raise the tax rate) to fund a design.
Selectmen Lily Kuzia and Jeff Levanos also supported the idea. "I too feel that anything that is good for our children is good to me," said Kuzia.
In the long term, Reardon said should a new school be approved, it could not include a preschool but "we would design a school with enough space in mind for an extra kindergarten that could be used as preschool."
Rougeau said she would like to have a preschool by fall but acknowledged 2014 was more likely.
"This building was built as a school in 1938 so it would kind of be coming full circle," said McKinney.
In other business:
• The board approved two sewer hookups on Farview Heights Road, off North Eagle Street, for two lots (created out of several adjoining lots) owned by Richard Bernardi pending approval by the city of North Adams and the Hoosac Water Quality District.
• Town Administrator Thomas Webb reported four companies have evinced interest in siting a solar array in town. McKinney noted the town has 77 acres and more at the capped landfill. Board members briefly discussed what could be in a power-purchase contract. Webb said the town would first prepare a request for proposals and then negotiate an agreement.