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School Project Goes Back to Drawing Board
Staff Reports,
10:41AM / Thursday, May 05, 2011

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's going to "take a step back" from the school building project.

Mayor Richard Alcombright said a press conference regarding the project will be held Friday at noon to explain the whys and wherefores.

The school building committee and its designers have come under withering fire from parents and neighbors of Sullivan School on Kemp Avenue when it became apparent it would likely be sacrificed for the renovation of Conte Middle School.

During a three-hour meeting last Thursday, parents hurled charges that the committee and designers hadn't spent enough time on finding ways to renovate the school. They oppose sending youngsters downtown to Conte, which had operated as a high school and middle school for nearly 100 years, but never as an elementary school.

The designers and school officials, including faculty, say the hillside school is problematic because of its multiple levels and limited expansion options because of the steep grade.

In an email announcing the press conference, Alcombright said the decision was being made in consultation with Superintendent of Schools James Montepare.

"This time will allow the design team to more fully explore Sullivan School options and will allow us to meet on any new proposals," he wrote. "Upon receipt of new design options, we will re-engage the School Building Committee, School Committee and City Council through public process as well as convene additional public sessions with the result being more significant and consistent support."

The mayor said he and the superintendent would be available for questions on Friday.

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