Clarksburg Exploring Alternative Preschool Option

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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School officials are considering placing a modular preschool classroom next to the elementary school.

CLARKSBURG, Mass. — School officials are hoping they have found a reasonable alternative for a preschool.

Town meeting last year authorized a feasibility study of Town Hall to see if a classroom in the former elementary school could be transformed into preschool space. The answer was yes — but at a steep price.

Superintendent Jonathan Lev said a modular classroom could be the answer.

"It seems to be a very viable option," he told the School Committee on Thursday night. "There's still some questions that we need to check to really get a very clear picture of what the cost would be to the school to do that."

Vincent Guntlow of Guntlow & Associates had presented a price of about $265,000, including design and engineering services, to turn the second-story space at Town Hall into a preschool. The renovation required code upgrades and handicapped accessibility in terms of access, safety and restrooms, about a third of the total cost.

A modular classroom conforming to modern codes would come in lower than that but would have to be hooked into sewer, water and electricity. Lev said he wanted to get some more estimates before presenting a price.

"It's obviously a temporary solution but better than what we have now," he said.

The classroom would be placed on a slab on the inside corner of the L-shaped building, a grassy level area not being regularly used for activities and accessible to the sewer system.

"This is really exciting because I was under the impression that we couldn't have anything here because of the well and sewer," said Chairman Jeffrey Levanos.

Lev said the water and sewer use from the classroom was expected to be minimal.

Officials have continued to look at other options and Lev said he had been in contact with the preschool programs for Stamford (Vt.) Elementary and Gabriel Abbott Memorial School in Florida. Levanos said he was grateful for the other schools willingness to work with Clarksburg on the issue but it would be more convenient and cost-effective to have the preschool in town.

 "It seems to be a very realistic price," he said. "Town Hall is a lot of money and don't know what we would be getting into."

Lev said funding possibilities still include use of the school stabilization and/or borrowing. A presentation is expected to be made on April 17 to community members on the different options.

A discussion on the school budget was delayed pending the decision of Rowe to join the Northern Berkshire School Union and the acceptance of a new regional agreement.

The union School Committee on April 1 first voted to accept Rowe Elementary School District, with about 60 pupils, into the superintendency union with Clarksburg, Florida and Emma Miller Memorial School in Savoy.

Rowe has been part of the Mohawk Trail Regional School System with Hawlemont and Mohawk Trail regional school districts for about 40 years. Rowe officials expect to save $50,000 by shifting into the Northern Berkshire School Union.

Lev said he wanted to wait until an agreement is hammered out rather than try to calculate two budget scenarios. The  expected savings for the current member districts is about $12,000 but Lev said it may be necessary to add a couple part-time staffers to deal with the increased work.

In other business:

Principal Linda Reardon reported that the eighth grade has raised $13,000 and expects to raise another $1,000 toward the annual trip to Washington, D.C., and the Holocaust Museum. The trip will include a Yankees game and a stop in Lancaster County in Pennsylvania.

The furnace air-handler vents in the cafeteria had recently given off a burning smell prompting a visit from the Fire Department. The vents will need new filters, parts and cleaning this summer.

An updated statement of interest is being submitted to the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The town is hoping to be selected for a new school project.

Tags: preschool,   school district,   

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