Mount Greylock Committee to Send Warrant to Towns on Feasibility Study

By Stephen DravisWilliamstown Correspondent
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The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee is preparing warrant articles to request borrowing for a feasibility study of the middle and high school.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School Committee will hold a special meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. to approve a warrant article asking its member towns to take on debt to pay for a feasibility study looking at how to do fix or replace the aging junior-senior high school.
The school district plans to seek permission from the towns of Williamstown and Lanesborough to take out a bond for $850,000, borrowed for a term of one to two years, according to a draft memo distributed at last week's School Committee meeting.
Of that $850,000, the Massachusetts School Building Authority would reimburse the district 55 percent, or $467,500.
The district itself plans to spend $150,000 from its budgets in fiscal years 2017 and '18.
The balance of $232,500 would be split between the two towns on a 60/40 basis.
That means Williamstown would pay $139,500, and Lanesborough would pay $93,000 toward the feasibility study, the first phase of the multistep MSBA process that school officials hope will lead to either a rebuilt or renovated Mount Greylock.
School Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Greene said last week that for other purposes, the district has the authority to bond for amounts as high as the $850,000, but the MSBA requires that the question go before voters in the member towns.
"They require what goes beyond Chapter 71," Greene said, referring to an area of Massachusetts General Law governing schools. "They want to know the towns support the school incurring the debt."
The committee needs to hold a special meeting to consider the warrant articles in order to beat a Jan. 30 deadline to get on the town meeting warrant in Lanesborough, Greene said.
Mount Greylock's Building Committee is planning outreach efforts in both towns between now and spring's town meetings to explain the bond vote and the purpose of the feasibility study.
One member of that committee, architect Thomas Bartels, helped determine the size of the bond the district should seek for the feasibility study.
According to a Dec. 19, 2013, memo to Greene from Bartels and John Benzinger, the pair consulted professionals who are "regularly involved with MSBA school projects" in arriving at the $850,000 figure.
"Pittsfield expects to spend $1.3 million to study possible construction options for a new or renovated Taconic High School," Benzinger wrote. "Thomas and I believe that the MGRHS project is approximately two-thirds the size of that project, which would correlate to a potential feasibility study cost of approximately $850,000."
The 55 percent reimbursement figure for MSBA is the same reimbursement rate for which the district was eligible on the 2009 locker room/boiler replacement project.
"We did ask [MSBA officials] when they were here for a site visit, and they were able to confirm it would be the same rate," Greene said.
Actually, the 55 percent figure could go up if the district took steps like expanding the region to a full K-through-12 school district or built a building that is LEED gold certified.
"But the 55 percent is not going to go down," Greene said.
There is another item on the Mount Greylock School Committee agenda for Tuesday: The committee plans to draft a memo to the Lanesborough and Williamstown elementary school committees regarding the proposal by some officials in Lanesborough that the town withdraw from Superintendency Union 71, a joint effort of the two elementary schools, with which Mount Greylock has an administrative agreement.

Tags: feasibility study,   MGRHS,   MSBA,   town warrant,   

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