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Williamstown Elementary Again Closed by Heating Issue

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — For the second time this fall, Williamstown Elementary School is closed for the day due to an issue with the heating system.

Shortly before 7 a.m. on Monday morning, the district used its "robocall" notification system to inform families of the closure.
 
Superintendent Douglas Dias said later in the morning that a leak in the school's primary boiler caused it to shut down over the weekend.
 
"Fortunately, the damage was contained to the boiler room itself, but the heat was off and there was no hot water," Dias said. "Considering the fact that the building was cool and not conducive to learning, we decided to play it safe."
 
Dias said that the building's custodian checked in on the boiler on Friday of the four-day Thanksgiving weekend and found it to be operating normally.
 
When the custodian arrived on Monday at 5 a.m., he discovered the problem.
 
Dias said that a backup boiler - known to be problematic - did not automatically kick in when the primary unit failed. He did not yet know the reason why the backup did not engage.
 
"The one that was fully functional, which is all we need, that was the one that sprung a leak," Dias said.
 
Dias said was at the school early Monday morning along with Principal Joelle Brookner and Mount Greylock Regional School Facilities Supervisor Jesse Wirtes, who came to assist. WES, Mount Greylock and Lanesborough Elementary share central administrative services, including the superintendent, under an arrangement known as the Tri-District.
 
The other two schools opened on schedule Monday morning.
 
Dias said Monday it is likely that pupils at WES -- with two heating-related closures so far this year -- will be in school two days longer than their counterparts in June, when schools make up emergency closure days, like snow days.
 
"Right now, I'm concerned about every day we miss out of school," Dias said. "[The calendars] are out of sync. At the moment, that's just the way life is. It is highly unlikely the other two schools would be closed and WES would be open [between now and the end of the school year].
 
"We have to play the hand we're dealt."
 
Dias said plumbers were on the scene Monday morning making repairs, and he anticipated a normal school day on Tuesday.
 
In October, WES was closed for one day after a leak was discovered in the pipes that carry heat through the facility.
 
Coincidentally, both closures created five-day weekends for pupils. The October closure was on the Thursday before a previously scheduled four-day weekend; WES was closed for pupils on Friday, Oct. 9, for a full day of professional development for staff.
 
Monday's closure extended the Thanksgiving weekend by an extra day.

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Mount Greylock School Committee Completes Superintendent Evaluation

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock School Committee gave first-year Superintendent Kimberley Grady passing marks on her first formal evaluation while recognizing that the evaluation process itself was incomplete given Mount Greylock's transition to a fully regionalized PreK-12 district.
 
Four of the six committee members who completed the evaluation process gave Grady an overall mark of proficient in the evaluation rubric established by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for administrators across the commonwealth. Two gave her an overall score of "needs improvement," though at least one commented in the written evaluation that she is at the higher end of the "needs improvement" range.
 
And the "needs improvement" classification itself was not to be unexpected for someone who was hired as a full-time superintendent after a spring 2018 vote of the committee.
 
DESE's guidance to school committees is that, "for first- and second-year superintendents, there will most likely be 'needs improvement,' " acting Chairwoman Regina DiLego said.
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