Clarksburg School will be visited by the School Building Authority next month.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The elementary school will get a visit from the Massachusetts School Building Authority later this September.
It's the first time in at least a decade since representatives from the state have toured the building.
"We really look forward to them coming and seeing us in person," said Superintendent of the Schools Jonathan Lev at Thursday's School Committee meeting.
Lev expects the tour to occur sometime in mid to late September. It should take about two hours, he said, adding that he would include custodian John Blair and would also like a parent and any members of the School Committee to attend.
"A big thing for me is just that the more they know the town, parents and the school are really in support of it, behind it, I think it will leave a good impression," he said.
The Selectmen in March unanimously approved the school district's submission of a statement of interest, the first one since 2010.
The aging kindergarten-through-Grade 8 school is no longer functional for modern education, say school officials, and is need of signification renovations or replacement.
Lev said the SOI submitted for the 2013 was rewritten because the previous versions, dating back at least a decade, no longer truly reflected the district's needs.
"Back then, whether it was 12 years ago or whatever, our enrollment was over 200. They were using the enrollment as one of the main factors for wanting to do a renovation," he said "Our enrollment has gone down but our needs have gone up for the things that we're doing, as far as programs we're offering, technology, space, preschool ... ."
The original building dates to 1952, with additions in 1966, 1970 and 1977. The SOI submitted under then Superintendent John Barry in 2009 lists a lack of space, antiquated restrooms, moldering sills, inefficient heating systems, the use of single room as gym, cafeteria and multipurpose, and drainage and ventilation deficiencies found by the Department of Public Health.
The same issues are listed in the new SOI, with the addition of ventilation problems cited by the state fire marshal in the kitchen, a "jerry rigged" electrical service, out-of-code oil tanks and water damage at various areas on the building. Most of the deficiencies listed are from a feasibility study done by Margo Jones Architects in 2006.
Space issues limit both in-school and extracurricular programs, parental involvement, schoolwide activities, sporting events and programs in arts, music, theater, science and industrial arts. Also, "because of a lack of space for specialized services we are also forced to tuition some of our students with disabilities into
other districts," the SOI states.
The building also doesn't have space for preschool, prompting parents to petition town meeting to establish one at Town Hall, at least until the school can accommodate one. The town authorized $8,000 for a feasibility study.
Principal Linda Reardon said three applications were submitted to do the study — Guntlow & Associates, Hill Engineering and S&K Design. Lev said a request for proposals was not required, since the cost was below $10,000, but the school district want to compare bids. A group will be formed to review the bids with the town administrator.
The plan is to create a preschool in one of the empty rooms at Town Hall, which used to be an elementary school, to open by fall 2014.
"The classroom itself is in pretty good shape, it was a kindergarten class," said Lev, although it will now require two bathrooms and, more importantly, handicapped accessibility.
Both Lev and Reardon warned that accessibility would be the most difficult and probably the most expensive part of the project. "If it's x amount of money withou putting in handicapped accessible and it's an unbelievable difference ... we'll have some decisions to take."
There's a chance accessibility could be put off but only if there's a permanent solution in the near future, he said, such as the school getting into the MSBA program.
In other business:
• Some 21 children are being accepted through school choice; this will make up the loss of five to six school-choice chhildren in eighth grade. The highest numbers are in kindergarten but Lev said the administration is "very comfortable" with the numbers in Grades 1-8.
• Cafeteria will offer "grab and go" breakfasts this year beginning in October. It was mandated by the Department of Education based on free and reduced lunch numbers, and is reimbursable. There will also be a push to make the cafeteria more sustainable, although Lev noted that improving the nutritional standards means higher costs.
• Teacher Michael Little received a grant to buy strategy games for after-school programs. Reardon said the games require a lot of reading and team work. "The kids really enjoyed it and get into it," Lev said. Amanda L'Etoile of Berkshire Natural Resources will also be offering healthy after-school activities, such as walking and snowshowing.
• The next meeting was set for Sept. 12 at 5:30 at the school.
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