By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff Updated 03:07PMPrint | Email
Update on July 11 to address concerns that Plunkett's name had been required to remain on the school building.
Eugene Michalenko of Adams Historical Society said on Tuesday that he knew of no stipulation that required C.T. Plunkett's name to be on the building.
According to the society, Plunkett was chairman of the Adams School Committee and its Junior HIgh School Building Committee in 1922 when the $350,000 in funds appropriated by the town to build the school fell short of the bid by $10,000.
Plunkett covered the difference with his own funds and had also purchased the former L.L. Brown Mansion, which had lain empty for more than 20 years, razed it and donated the land to the town as the school's site. His donation toward the school totaled $30,000. The school was named after him when it opened in 1924; he died in 1927.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — C.T. Plunkett School has a new, although familiar, name: Hoosac Valley Elementary
The name change is part of a bid to bring some unity to the two towns of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District that have been riven by discord in the wake of the closure of Cheshire Elementary School. The shared high school has the same name, the designation for the river valley within which the two towns sit.
"It has a nice ring to it," Superintendent Robert Putnam said after the School Committee voted to change the name Monday night.
School officials have discussed changing the name of the district and the elementary school over the past few months. This was a recommendation from the Collins Center consultants, hired last year, to help unify the two-member town.
With the vote to close Cheshire School and rising tensions between the two towns, the School Committee felt renaming the district's now single elementary school could help bring the communities together.
Officials did reach out to both Adams and Cheshire to see if there was favor for the name change. The Cheshire Selectmen were all in favor of the change as well as Adams Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco.
"There is general support and indications that renaming the district and the elementary school would be fair," Chairman Paul Butler said.
Former Cheshire and now Plunkett Principal Peter Bachli said there was some urgency to the name change because he has to transfer paperwork and finances.
The School Committee was in support of changing the district name to something similar as well but decided to make that change next year and bring in more town involvement.
The Adams school had been named for Charles T. Plunkett, scion of the Plunkett textile empire and the school's benefactor.
In other business, Putnam said the district has been operating under the interim monthly 1/12 budget since July 1 and that the bulk of the financial hit will begin in September when a majority of payroll comes into play.
He said although the district has not been faced with the financial hardship that comes with the 1/12 budget yet, the uncertainty over the budget has made the hiring process more complicated.
"It has affected the hiring process for the three interventionist positions and special education position proposed in the budget," he said. "The uncertainty of the budget has depressed the interest of internal candidates in the positions as well ... it is a topic of concern that has come up in most if not all of the interviews."
Cheshire's rejection of the school budget last month forced the state set the school district with a monthly budget based on fiscal year 2017. Cheshire will vote again on the same budget July 17 and if rejected, the vote will go to a districtwide vote.
The district has until December to pass a budget or the state takes over the district.
Putnam said he plans to schedule a district vote for early August if Cheshire's town meeting vote fails.
Committee member Stephan Vigna asked that both towns are involved in organizing the meeting so if the vote fails, there is a plan in place for the districtwide meeting as soon as possible.
"With not knowing what the outcome will be, I think we need to coordinate with both towns and have them start organizing so we have a plan in place if the budget fails again," he said. "We want this to be ready and make sure it is fair for everybody."
Vigna still had questions about the districtwide vote and asked if it had to be a hand vote, ballot vote, scheduled at a single time or at a single place.
Putnam said it would essentially be a School Committee meeting at which a vote by those present is taken and counted. He said a simple majority will win. He said he would reach out to the state for more clarity.
It may be hard to find a venue that could potentially fit all the registered voters of both towns, he said, but felt the Hoosac Valley High School cafeteria, auditorium or gym could suffice.
The superintendent added that the transition of the grades to Hoosac Elementary and the high school is going well and that all classroom content at the middle and high school has been moved.
He expects all the classrooms to be moved to the elementary school by July 12.
The C.T. Plunkett PTG has raised funds for more playground equipment and the Cheshire Elementary School PTG has donated $5,000 to purchase playground equipment for middle school that will now include Grades 4-5.
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