Mount Greylock Regional High School is eligible to begin work toward a feasibility study.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — All the hard work of the Mount Greylock Regional School District Building Committee paid off on Wednesday.
"Now," in the words of the district's superintendent, "the real work begins."
The Massachusetts School Building Authority on Wednesday voted unanimously to invite Mount Greylock into the authority's eligibility period for major renovation for new construction of the 53-year-old junior/senior high school.
Superintendent Rose Ellis, School Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Greene and Building Committee co-Chairwoman Paula Consolini attended the MSBA Board of Directors meeting in anticipation of a vote on Mount Greylock's latest statement of interest.
The trio was pleasantly surprised to be joined by state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams.
"That was wonderful," Ellis said in a telephone interview while riding back to the Berkshires on the Mass Pike. "She's been extremely important."
After the board meeting, Ellis, Greene and Consolini celebrated in Cariddi's Boston office.
"She was very gracious," Ellis said. "We hung out a little bit and talked about what it means to the community."
What it means for the Building Committee is a whole new workload.
The 270-day eligibility period requires districts to complete a series of tasks that lead up to a vote in each of the district's towns (Williamstown and Lanesborough, in the case of Mount Greylock), authorizing the expense of a feasibility study.
Ellis said after the district receives written notification of Wednesday's vote, the School Committee will be contacted by the MSBA about how to proceed through the process.
She said the committee is tentatively targetting spring's annual town meetings for the vote to authorize a feasability study.
"The eligibility period is a required nine months, but we're anticipating doing it sooner," Ellis said. "We have a sense of urgency around this project given the serious concerns about the building."
Mount Greylock has been sending the authority SOIs, as they are known, for six years.
Last fall, the district was encouraged by a visit from the MSBA's executive director. Jack McCarthy took a tour of the school and, without making any commitments, told a packed house in the school's meeting room that he appreciated the facility's serious deficiencies.
The district's case likely was strengthened last month, when it needed to close for a day and a half because a sudden heat wave caused excessive moisture to accumulate on the school's floors, creating an unsafe condition for students.
The MSBA funds a portion of school renovation and construction projects with money generated by the commonwealth's sales tax; the district likely would bond the remainder of the project if and when it gets to that point.
Although many in town believe that the best solution for Mount Greylock is to tear it down and build a new school, the renovation/construction question would be answered through the feasibility study.