NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The building project for Greylock School put on hold earlier this year was restarted Tuesday with the first meeting of the appointed School Building Committee.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority invited the city into the eligibility stage last December and there were plans for the building committee to begin its work by spring. But this was cut short by the arrival of the novel coronavirus and the process was put on hold.
"When we were approved for an invitation into the eligibility phase, the clock was scheduled to start ticking back in the spring," said Mayor Thomas Bernard, who is also chairman of the School Committee. "And then, COVID happened and everything was extended into the fall. So now we're at the point where we are going to start our clock ticking. In fact, we did that with a submission earlier this month, to start the process."
The constitution of the School Building Committee is the next step and Bernard noted this will be a multiphase process and is not expected that everyone will be continuing through entire project, if there is one. The city's last school renovation project, Colegrove Park Elementary School, saw a bit of turnover from the committee's formation to dissolution.
"Some of us will be continuing through every step and we may make some adjustments to many different phases," he said. "Just as requirements change, there'll be other opportunities for community voices and community input, particularly in later phases of the project."
Greylock Principal Sandra Cote said not much has been done to the school since an addition nearly 60 years ago. Greylock had been put forward as part of the school project a decade ago in a bid to have MSBA fund two schools — Greylock and what was then the closed Conte Middle School. The state rejected that idea and the School Building Committee voted to move forward with the $30 million Conte renovation and close Sullivan School rather than build one large school at Greylock.
That left the 70-year-old school as the last building up for renovation; both Brayton Elementary and Drury High School had had renovation projects about two decades ago.
"That leaves Greylock and here we are, 67 years after it first opened its door, and we're looking into the possibility of something that we can do to bring it up to the beauty that we have at Colegrove," Cote said. "So I want to thank you for your commitment and your time and I look forward to meet or to working with all of you on this project."
The committee will be looking at options for the elementary school, which dates to 1953. The 50,907 square-foot building serves 256 pupils in prekindergarten through Grade 6. MSBA's invitation is specific to the deficiencies noted in the SOI and includes studying the possible consolidation with Brayton Elementary.
Current members of the committee include Cote, the School Department's Director of Facilities Robert Flaherty, Office of Community Development Director Michael Nuvallie, parent Jennifer Downey, City Councilors Lisa Blackmer and Benjamin Lamb, former Mayor Richard Alcombright, real estate developer David Moresi, retired Greylock teacher Susan Candiloro, Director of Student Support Services Thomas Simon, School Committee members Tara Jacobs and Ian Bergeron, Building Inspector William Meranti and school Business Administrator Carrie Burnett. Assistant Superintendent Kimberly Roberts-Morandi was leading the meeting in place of Superintendent Barbara Malkas.
Only some are the core members for voting in filling categories required by the MSBA such as finances, construction, school and city officials, and community.
"Once we have the committee in place and once we decide who the voting members are, who the attending members are, who are the subcommittee members going to be, we have another month to put together the educational profile," Roberts-Morandi said. "Currently, what we want to look like, so what are our hopes and dreams. What do we envision education looking like for our students and what are the needs that they bring out from that."
Subcommittees will also look at maintenance, enrollment, and a set of checklists for the next submission. A feasibility study schematic design vote is scheduled for May 28 with training for the feasibility phase in June.
During this time there will be input gathered from the community and a local authorization to appropriate the money to complete the study.
"Those of you who know me know that Greylock is definitely near and dear to my heart," said Cote. "My hopes are that as we go through this project, it will be coming dear to you as well."
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