LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Selectmen are particularly interested in the lease agreement with the newly expanded school district for use of the elementary school.
The Selectmen met with the School Committee last week as part of biannual conversations the two bodies started having in recent years. The School Committee over the next months will slowly be dissolved, replaced with a transition committee, and then eventually a new district school committee. The town had voted to expand the Mount Greylock Regional School District to include Lanesborough Elementary.
The town will still owns the building and a lease agreement with the newly expanded Mount Greylock district needs to be crafted. The Selectmen are particularly interested in the terms of that agreement and how it will relate to community groups using the building. Selectman Robert Ericson has been privy to use agreements during his time on the Mount Greylock committee and wants to see exactly how it will be handled.
Mount Greylock has its own use policy and fee structure right now. Superintendent Kimberly Grady said some organizations are able to use the school for free, while others are charged a fee to offset impacts to the building. She expects a similar policy will be crafted for Lanesborough Elementary as part of the transition committee's work.
"The wear and tear on the gym floor costs the school budget," Grady said.
The lease agreement will also have to address a longstanding right of way concern. Right now there is a fairly informal agreement between the town and a local resident giving the resident an easement directly through the middle of the land and building. The easement was put in place for the owner to have access to the field behind the school property.
"Right now it is an informal thing," Ericson said.
Ericson said an attorney has suggested that agreement is formalized and documented before a lease agreement is reached.
School Committee Chairwoman Regina DiLego, who will also serve on the transition committee, said the lease discussions won't start until the new year when the transition committee has authority. Grady, however, has gotten a jump start on it and has sent a rough draft to the town manager to review.
The School Committee will also be passing on a maintenance plan. The school has a lengthy document outlining all of the capital needs of the building. New carpeting, for example, in many areas of the building is currently ongoing and a large project to replace windows in next.
Ericson had toured the building an identified two dozen or so windows that could use replacement. Principal Marty McEvoy had Berkshire Plate Glass in to do a more detailed assessment.
"He says that we could need up to 100 units to be replaced to be fully thermally efficient," McEvoy said.
McEvoy said the company provided a broad estimate but that hadn't included any economy of scale if the school takes on a large number of windows at once. The principal said a more detailed estimate is expected.
Grady also told the Selectmen that she should be able to have preliminary budget talks in January.
"It is early in this process to be able to have a Greylock projection and Lanesborough projection," she said.
From there, she'd like to have information on the town's perspective and numbers. From there, she'll craft a more detailed budget. She hopes to have the public hearing on the budget in March.
The budget will be the first under the new district. The district budget will now have the health insurance for the school employees in it, when before those funds were on the town's side. The town will start with a significant amount of money off its books while the district will start with a significant addition because of that shift in the source of health insurance payments.
In the future, the town will work with the School Council on the Lanesborough Elementary portion of the budget — a provision put in the district agreement to preserve local control.
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