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North Adams to Try Again for Feasibility Study of Greylock School

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Greylock School fell out of the money — literally — last year but school officials will try again for a feasibility study to look into replacing or renovating the 60-year-old building. 
The School Committee on Tuesday authorized Superintendent Barbara Malkas to submit a statement of interest detailing the educational and building needs of the elementary school to the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The City Council will also have to approve the submission prior to the April 6 deadline. 
"Having a statement of interest doesn't mean we'll have a project next year," Malkas explained. "But that we continue to explore the potential of having a project at Greylock Elementary."
A statement of interest, or SOI, was submitted last year. It was the first time an SOI had been submitted since 2010, when the school was included in a study related to the closure of Conte Middle School. At the time, the city had sought a "two-school" solution by renovating both Conte and Greylock, but the MSBA opted for only renovating Conte. The $30 million Colegrove Park Elementary School opened in 2016.
Malkas said MSBA officials came out last year to tour Greylock and interview herself, Principal Sandra Cote and then Mayor Richard Alcombright. 
"The screening-in process depends a lot of times on how much need your school has and how much money is available for screening into feasiblity," she said. "We were probably in the top 20 of consideration for an MSBA feasibility study but I believe they only funded for 15."
The MSBA selects schools based on need, the political will of the communities involved and the amount of money available for grants. A cent of the 6.25 percent sales tax is used to fund the agency. More than 150 SOIs were submitted last year alone. 
Malkas said this year's SOI would identify the same two priorities: replacement, renovation and modernization or replacement and addition. 
The 55,000-square-foot school was built in 1953 with an addition in 1965, of its two boilers, one dates to 1965 and the other to 1992. The roof was replaced in 2003 but many other items are original or more than 20 years old, with the exception of the HVAC system that was upgraded in 2013. The building is not compliant with the American with Disabilities Act and its exterior masonry walls are cracked and uninsulated. 
Last year's SOI referred to possible changes in grade configuration, which was ultimately dealt with by relocating Grade 7 to the high school to create a middle school at Drury. 
The district will be able to update the 2017 submission, Malkas said. "I will be working on that with [Facilities Manager] Matt Neville over the next month." 
Mayor Thomas Bernard asked if the MSBA had provided any insight on why the school was not selected last year and how it could improve. 
Malkas said she had spoken to officials there and it appeared largely that North Adams just fell outside the funding. 
"They look at many things, whether or not you're ready to enter into a feasibility ... is there the political will to support the process, what is the physical need of the building, what are the barriers for consideration," she said. "As we know in this area, we have seen very successful projects ... and projects get defeated through town votes. ...
"As everyone knows who lived through the Colegrove Park Elementary School, it takes many years to get to that place where you're invited in to the feasibility program and many years down the road before you put a shovel in the dirt to start the project."

Tags: Greylock School,   MSBA,   

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