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North Adams School Officials Pursue Brayton Upgrades

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Committee on Tuesday voted to pursue potential renovation of Brayton School. 
 
And the city won't have to start over with the Massachusetts School Building Authority process.
 
The school district had been initially been selected by the MSBA in 2019 to consider a renovation or rebuild of Greylock School. But the state agency strongly advised against that after reviewing financial and enrollment data that questioned the need for three elementary schools.
 
The Greylock plan was abandoned in April and the city asked if it could switch schools. The answer is yes.
 
"The MSBA has reviewed your request and determined that the Greylock Elementary School can remain in the grant program and that the District may consider during the Feasibility Study phase, inclusion of the Brayton Elementary School as a potential solution," wrote Mary Pichetti, MSBA's director of capital planning, in a letter dated May 21.
 
MSBA projects aren't necessarily tied to specific buildings but rather a plan that best solves an education need. The Colegrove Park Elementary School project, for example, was based on the best plan for educating nearly 400 pupils. During the feasibility phase, all three elementary school and the then middle school were considered.
 
In this case, the MSBA will allow the district to consider Brayton as part of the Greylock project — should it be invited into the feasibility phase.
 
"We're able to do this because, after looking at the enrollment projection and the data that we've all seen, MSBA did not close the door on a project for North Adams, but left the door — left a different door — open for us to to pass through," said Mayor Thomas Bernard, chairman of the School Committee.
 
Bernard and Superintendent Barbara Malkas, in their letter requesting Brayton be considered, listed the school's location in the west end, its programs including Steeples and the 21st Century Learning Center, and its shared premises with the Northern Berkshire Family YMCA. 
 
The school was built in 1991 but has a number of deferred maintenance issues such as the replacement of roof, boiler, windows and doors. The interior needs some cosmetic upgrades and a review of its layout for educational needs. 
 
"The shift in focus of the outcome to a two-elementary school system is a direct result of the technical assistance provided by the MSBA senior staff as part of the Greylock School building project," Bernard and Malkas wrote. "Re-entry into the pipeline of submission will further delay the City of North Adams in achieving our goal of creating equitable learning environments for all students in our district."
 
The MSBA invited the district to submit a statement of interest by June 25 detailing Brayton's condition with further information on the city's actions to secure feasibility study funds.
 
In other business, the School Committee voted to accept a new three-year contract retroactive to July 1, 2020, with the North Adams Teachers Association, which has already ratified the agreement.
 
The contract has a 1.5 percent increase for each year, and makes adustments to longevity terms and salary schedules. New teachers will start at a higher rate and senior level teachers will get a bonus of $750 this year and next.
 
"What we agreed to was the removal of the first two steps of the contract so under the previous contract, it was a 17-step salary schedule that has been replaced with a 15-step salary schedule," said Bernard. Starting at step 3 "will be an effective recruitment and retention tool, particularly for our earliest career educators."
 
The committee also accepted a gift of $1,834.50 from Maker's Mill. The nonprofit cooperative is dissolving and is donating the funds to support art programming in the public schools. 

Tags: Brayton School,   MSBA,   

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NBCC Honors NBEOC Team, Remembers Joe Manning

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition presented the Northern Berkshire Emergency Operations Center Team with the Hero Award at their 35th annual meeting.
 
"This goes to a group of individuals that came together as a team to make sure this community stayed connected, informed, and were supplied with the necessary resources," board President Jennifer Civello said Friday at the meeting that was held at Greylock Works. "All while ensuring the safety systems continued uninterrupted during the pandemic."
 
Every year at its annual meeting, NBCC presents the Hero Award to a group or individual who has made a difference in the region.
 
This year the choice was clear — the Northern Berkshire Emergency Operations Center (NBEOC) Team, who quickly mobilized and reacted to a global pandemic that was firming its grip around Berkshire County.
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