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The Select Board voted to pursue an RFP for developing a master plan.

Clarksburg Eyeing Master Plan to Prioritize Projects

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Town officials are looking to pursue a master plan to help prioritize capital improvements and the town's vision. 
The Select Board has been considering long-range planning for some time — particularly since the failure of the school project vote in 2017. The issue was raised two weeks ago at a School Committee meeting during discussions about the repairs being attempted at the school. 
"I bring this up because we had some conversations last week as to the future of Clarksburg and where we want to see it," said Select Board Chairman Ronald Boucher on Thursday. "And in my time, here, probably in [board member Jeffrey Levanos'] time, I don't think there's ever been any kind of a plan put forth or talk of a plan put forth for five years out or 10 years out,
"I think it's important because as as we see in small towns, boards change, board members change, but we need to have a vision where this town needs to be it that's inclusive — the town, school, everything."
Jennifer Macksey, the new business director for the Northern Berkshire School Union, broached the idea of a master plan at the School Committee meeting held on Aug. 8 and offered her assistance, Boucher said. 
"They made a motion to move forward to looking looking into an RFP, pushed through with Jen's assistance, to look at putting a master plan together," he said, adding that the committee had asked him to bring the idea to the board for discussion. "I think it's important that we have something in place."
Macksey has some experience in both municipal and education planning as treasurer and director of finance/procurement officer for the city of North Adams and as vice president of administration and finance at the former Southern Vermont College. She had offered her expertise in developing the request for proposals.
Town meeting recently approved a $1 million debt exclusion to address significant issues in the town and school's infrastructure. The money will be split between both entities. While officials have a good idea where some of this money will go, it was pointed out that there are more projects ahead and a plan to prioritize those needs would provide a roadmap for future boards. 
School officials also said they did not have the expertise to determine next steps beyond the obvious needs in heating, accessibility and security. Superintendent of School John Franzoni said the planning had been part of ad hoc renovation committee's conversation.
"The people in there were just saying ... that it'd be wise for us to have a plan for people to come in and say, here's what you should to prioritize either in this building or for the town for a short-term plan to use that those funding and a long-term plan for what we're trying to do," he said. "What's our plan for Clarksburg? What's our plan for the school? How we going to spend this money? And what's our long-term plan for our vision for what we want the school to be and the town to be in terms of these projects?"
Franzoni said there have already been delays in getting the new furnace system installed the school, in part because there is no one with the experience in procedures and oversight for that type of project. 
"We have various people that have certain expertise and what they do, but none of us know how to oversee a project or, or do
a plan," said Robert Norcross, who's been coordinating the renovation committee. "And that's part of the problem, we're moving ahead with projects and we either need a clerk of the works or, you know, someone in charge."
The board voted unanimously to develop an RFP for a master plan and to see what the cost would be.
In other business: 
The board voted to approve reductions in speed on Middle Road at the recommendation of Chief Michael Williams. The section from the intersection at Musterfield Heights to River Road would be reduced from 40 mph to 35 mph and from 35 mph to 30 mph. Another 30 mph sign will be installed near the pump station on Middle Road to remind motorists of the speed limit. 
A discussion on the status of the Council on Aging and the Senior Center was postponed to the meeting of Aug. 28 so members of the COA could be invited to attend. The COA had indicated it would dissolve but an effort to rejuvenate the board has not yet occurred. The Select Board also wanted to discuss the transition of the center to a Community Center to open it up for more activities. 
Several other items were also postponed to the next meeting because the relevant individuals were not available to answer questions. 
The board confirmed the hiring of Jason Morin, who recently built the new website, as the town's new information technology person. He replaces an individual who resigned. 

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Clarksburg School Preparing for Reopening Scenarios

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

The new security doors can be seen in the school lobby. The doors are one of several updates at the school, including a public address system and an accessible bathroom. 
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Principal Tara Barnes is working on a "nice puzzle challenge" in figuring how students will be situated within the elementary school come fall to comply with public health guidelines for the pandemic.
The state guidelines, so far, are requiring social distancing as well as masking for students in Grades 2 and up. Schools will also require a separated space for children who may be showing symptoms of COVID-19.
"I feel from most of our classrooms, about 15 students is the max of what we're able to get in there," she told the School Committee on Thursday. Further guidance from the state in regard to desks and dividers could mean a few more, but, she said, "I don't want at any point to compromise the safety of students or staff when I'm looking at these spaces."
Barnes said she's reviewing the use of "overflow" spaces such as the gym and rethinking uses of non-classroom areas and how that might affect special education teaching and splitting up classes to keep the numbers down. 
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