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Hoosac Valley Using Closed School for Reading Support Space

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — Hoosac Valley Regional School District is converting the former Cheshire School's library into a remote reading assistance space.
 
"We have staff currently working in the space to support students with reading remotely and decided now was a good time to clean it out and utilize it properly," Superintendent Aaron Dean said last week.
 
The cleaning of the space came up during a special Selectmen's meeting on Dec. 18. Selectman Robert Ciskowski asked about a trash roll-off near the cafeteria entrance of the school.
 
"I don't remember how much space we leased them, but they are throwing out stuff that is not theirs," he said. "They had a date to take whatever they wanted and anything left was Cheshire's ... I guess that is all just going in the Dumpster."
 
After the school district consolidated and closed the elementary school, the district decided to keep its central office in the vacant building. The ownership reverted to the town, which leased space to the district along with some other tenants.
 
Ciskowski said although there was nothing of substantial value in the room, there were books donated from the Cheshire community as well as bookcases.
 
"Just knowing that the library served a nice little school and seeing how everything looks now in there and everything going into the Dumpster it just seems like a crime to me," he said. "I think they might be overstepping their lease, and I didn't want them there in the first place. They would be the last people in the world I would want in there after what they have done to us."
 
Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi said she was under the impression that the library was included in the district's lease. She said it did receive some use and functioned as a meeting room for the special education department.
 
Dean confirmed this and said the space was used for socially distanced special education evaluations.
 
He added that, other than that, it functioned as storage.
 
"There is definitely nothing of value," he said. "This space was a catch-all, full of broken furniture and very outdated materials."
 
He added that the former town administrator had actually asked the district to clean up the room.
 
Francesconi said the district did reach out to the Cheshire and Adams' libraries to see if anyone wanted the books. 
 
"People were given the opportunity to go through the books and nobody wanted any of them," she said. "People did take some. I even took a few myself the first time I went through."
 
She added that she had looked in the trash container, and the books mostly appeared to be old textbooks that were typically were cycled out even when the school was open. She said other than that, there were some old desks.
 
The situation still did not sit well with Ciskowski, who was outspoken against the school's closure. He said he was under the impression that Hoosac Valley Elementary School, the former Plunkett Elementary School, had all the room the district needed.
 
"We were sold a bill of goods that Plunkett had all this room ... it would appear as though someone lied," he said. "We were told Plunkett had plenty of parking and plenty of room, but I guess that is not the case."
 
The Selectmen then talked about the actual lease, and Selectman Ronald DeAngelis said he has suggested taking another look at the lease and adding in a clause that would allow the town to pull out of it within a certain amount of days, like the district.
 
"I felt that was fair, and it should be equal," he said. "If they can get leave after a 60 days notice, we should have that option, too."
 

 


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Cheshire Interim Town Administrator to Begin Search For Replacement

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Interim Town Administrator Mark Webber will collect information from the Selectmen to help in the permanent town administrator search process.
 
"The interim's job is to work himself out of a job," Webber said Tuesday.
 
Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV resigned from the position late in 2020. Webber, who served as town administrator before St. John, agreed to step into the role in an interim capacity.
 
Webber asked that all input be sent to him via email. He said input would help build a job description. For example, Webber asked if the selectmen wanted a full-time, part-time, or shared town administrator. He also wanted to know what kind of authority the new town administrator should have.
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