The School Committee, meeting in Cheshire, was informed that the MSBA had chosen Hoosac Valley Elementarry for a visit this fall.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Massachusetts School Building Authority representatives will visit Hoosac Valley Elementary school for an initial screening.
Superintendent John Vosburgh told the School Committee on Monday that five MSBA representatives will visit the school on Oct. 17 to survey the facility and meet with administrators and town leaders.
"The purpose of this is to take a tour of the school, to look at the needs that we have, and to get feedback from us to see how things are going," Vosburgh said. "To get the flavor of the appetite for such a project."
The district submitted its statement of interest earlier this year under Superintendent Robert Putnam with the ultimate hope of becoming a one-campus district and building a new school on the Hoosac Valley High School grounds. The high school underwent a $40 million reconstruction in 2011-12 that saw the middle school grades move up to the campus.
After the closing of Cheshire Elementary school, C.T. Plunkett on Commercial Street in Adams became the district's only elementary school and was renamed Hoosac. The school has had various maintenance issues over the years.
Vosburgh said out of applications submitted, 28 were selected for this early screening.
"We were in the mix of 28," he said. "It is a screening process to see if the communities are serious and really want to do this and if there is a huge need ... it is very preliminary."
The SOI submitted for 2018 seeks renovation and modernization of Hoosac Elementary with project scope of a "potential new school."
The former junior high school was built in 1923 and has had one major renovation in 1994 that saw the three-story 22,000 square-foot addition built and repairs and renovations to the original 54,000 square-foot building. The town of Adams recently spent around $200,000 repairing the roof of the boiler room and several other repairs.
That project was problematic and scaled back somewhat after a plume of oil from the neighboring service station was discovered under the property and required a liner and ventilation system; Liberty Street had to be closed and utility lines buried; the boilers froze up during construction and the contractor went bankrupt.
The building needs extensive repairs to its exterior masonry, especially on the 1923 section, and to its north chimney, the port cochere and the leaking roof. The solution is to demolish and renovate the auditorium and gymnasium in the 1923 section, overhaul the masonry, and install a new roof on the center classroom section. The SOI also recommends repairing the back steps and chimney and repairing or removing the porte-cochere. EDM Architecture and Engineering of Pittsfield did the studies.
The statement reviews the difficulties faced by the school district over the closure of Cheshire Elementary and notes "The physical plant problems have reduced public confidence in the school which reduces confidence in the educational program."
Renovating or rebuilding "would inspire confidence in the educational program and win students back to the school" and more efficiently using the auditorium/gymnasium section could allow science labs and bringing the fourth grade back to the elementary school.
"The Adams-Cheshire Regional School District has not built a dedicated elementary building within the last 60 years. It has abandoned six elementary schools," the SOI notes.
In other business, the committee tabled a requested action to relabel former Cheshire Selectman Edmund St. John IV as a Cheshire at-large member of the Regional Agreement Assessment Committee because he has resigned from the select board.
Vosburgh said the town does have the option to put forward a new town representative and that he was told by the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools that the current at-large member did not have to be removed.
However, the School Committee felt possibly having another Cheshire representative would throw off the balance of the committee that was formed to update the antiquated document that spells out the contract between Adams, Cheshire and the school district.
"This is all about balance," School Committee member Adam Emerson said. "I don't think it will be equitable without removing someone first."
Emerson added that one of the Cheshire at-large members has only attended one meeting. Vosburgh said he would get information on how to remove a member.
The School Committee also approved a Hoosac Valley High School trip to Spain in April 2020.
"There are certainly wonderful education experiences that literally change the kids when they come back," Chairman Paul Butler said.
Hoosac Valley Principal Colleen Byrd said typically they do a European trip every three years and, in the past, have gone to England. This time around it was decided to align the trip with the language curriculum.
Dean of Students Molly Meczywor said at the most they would like to take two coach buses worth of students which is a little more than 80. There is not a bottom line for the cost of the trip yet but she said the students will have three years to raise the money.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Although the practice has been reinstated by the governor as part of Phase III of his COVID-19 reopening plan, the town of Adams has yet to allow tag sales within its borders. Hours after a brightly colored sign goes up on a utility pole advertising a tag sale, it is often being removed.
click for more
"Banners for Fallen Heroes" is the endeavor of George Haddad and Selectman James Bush, who worked with volunteers and American Legion Post 160 to honor those from Adams who died in service for their country.
click for more
Youth Center Inc. and Hoosac Valley Middle and High School were the only two programs in Berkshire County to win a prize for their participation. Both programs are getting support from the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management District.
click for more