CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Town officials are still hoping to get funding to fix the roof at Clarksburg School.
Chairman Ronald Boucher and Select Board member Danielle Luchi voted Wednesday night to send a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito requesting the visit the school to see the work being accomplished there.
"I think they really need to see it firsthand," said Boucher. "I know Patrick Carnevale (director of the governor's Western Massachusetts office) came out and did his thing, but it's — he's not the person that you need to see this."
The town has been advocating for the governor's office to release an earmark for $500,000 that state Sen. Adam Hinds had placed in a capital spending bill nearly two years ago. The executive office has been reluctant to invest in the school since the town decisively defeated a $19 million addition and renovation project. The Massachusetts School Building Authority and the state Department of Education had determined that the 60-year-old structure does not meet contemporary educational needs.
In the interim, local officials and volunteers have been making repairs and upgrades piecemeal through grants, donations and appropriations. Half a $1 million borrowing approved at the 2019 annual town meeting is set aside specifically for the school.
"I always felt that the governor's office had that impression that this school is crumbling and it's not and that that's why we need him out here to show him that," said Robert Norcross, who has taken the lead in coordinating with the volunteers and tracking priorities.
He and Boucher both acknowledged that while foundation isn't crumbling, the building still needs a lot of work — especially regarding accessibility. So far, a new heating system has been installed, some repairs have been done and there are plans for an accessible bathroom and public address system. Unfortunately, installation of the secure entrance over the holiday break didn't happen because the contractor couldn't pay the bond.
"I do think if there's a big splash enough and we invite the governor's office out, the attorney general, whatever, I think will go a long way," said Norcross. Boucher agreed, adding "the squeaky wheel gets the grease."
In other business, the board confirmed that it will host a joint meeting with the School Committee and library trustees on Feb. 12. The library and school have been at odds over the parking situation at the shared site and trustees were frustrated by recent comments at the School Committee meetings.
Town Administrator Rebecca Stone said she felt horrible that her tossing out the idea of shifting the library to the Community/Senior Center as an example of rethinking things had caused any upset.
"It was nothing that was been talked about, it was just something off the cuff and I think it was taken out of context," she said.
Norcross, however, said he didn't see a problem with her comment.
"I like it that people bring up ideas, because I thought that was an idea that needed to be talked about," he said. "But then again, you know, maybe it's not a good idea. Of course, you stop people from bringing up ideas, you never come up with that one that might work."
Boucher and Luchi hoped that the joint meeting would go a long ways to opening communication and reducing misinformation.
• The board voted to spend $2,373 for a new fire alarm and installation at Town Hall. The old unit is in disrepair and the battery backup doesn't work. It will be moved from the hot furnace room to a location that has a more constant temperature.
• The board also agreed to move to a "single signer" for warrants. Luchi said she had been unsure of the idea but had changed her mind after talking with the town's accountant and treasurer. The chairman was designated the signer and the board will receive a report of the warrants signed.
• Stone reported that she has received all but two departments' budgets so far for the fiscal 2021 budget planning. She said she will not be presenting a capital budget but will be requesting a grant-funded police cruiser replacement.
"I'm not planning on putting together any capital projects for the town because, I think most of you know, we have probably 18 or so projects on that list to get done," she said. "I don't see any reason why I should be putting in capital projects at this time."
One of these is the West Road culvert replacement and she said she had met with Highway Foreman Kyle Hurlbut and the town's engineering firm Foresight Services. "It's a huge project," she said. "We're looking at easily a half million dollars."
Also on tap is an estimated $50,000 sewer engineering study for upgrades to meet the requirements of the Hoosac Water Quality District. The money will come out of the sewer enterprise fund, which is supported by the sewer ratepayers.
The status of projects and grants is on the agenda for Monday's Finance Committee meeting.
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Clarksburg Moving to Next Phase in School Reopening
By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
The new entry has a window and speaker to the main office.
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Clarksburg School is moving to the next phase in reopening next week with the return of the middle school grades.
The school opened on Sept. 14 with Grades kindergarten through 5 gradually transitioning into half-days in school and half-days remote and Grades 6 through 8 completely remote. Classes were held Monday through Thursday with Friday as professional development and evaluation. The intent had been to operate in this configuration and then reassess at the end of September with an eye to the local health data related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"It's going really well, Fridays we're debriefing with all the staff, about what's working, what's not," Principal Tara Barnes told the School Committee at a special meeting on Thursday. "We're making adjustments to procedures of how we do things, if we see the need coming up. So that's been really useful time that we put into the schedule."
It's going well enough that the School Committee voted to take the next step of expanding the amount of time in the building.
Beginning Monday, Oct. 5, Grades 1 through 5 will attend in person all day, Monday through Friday. Kindergarten and Grades 6 to 8 will go half-days in school and half-days remote, also Monday through Friday, with two cohorts switching between mornings and afternoons.
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The board held a joint meeting with the Board of Health to determine if it was time to begin easing restrictions on the use of municipal buildings, especially since the Clarksburg School has opened for hybrid learning.
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The debate over the definition of the structures — and whether there was a permit issued for their construction — lead to heated exchanges between town officials and the owner at last week's Planning Board meeting.
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On Friday morning, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association released the sport-specific modifications that on Thursday unanimously were approved by the association’s COVID-19 Task Force. click for more
Only about 14 voters attended the special town meeting on the lawn of the Senior Center that also gave the Select Board the ability to start new employees at wage steps commensurate with their experience and education and approved the first step in making the town clerk and appointed position.
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The small schools of Gabriel Abbott Memorial in Florida, Emma Miller in Savoy and Rowe Elementary will open students back in the classroom on Sept. 8; Clarksburg Elementary will begin the school year on Sept. 14 with a hybrid model.
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