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School Committee Endorses 2-School Plan
Tammy Daniels,
10:19PM / Tuesday, September 06, 2011

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Committee endorsed on Tuesday night the recommendation of the school building committee to pursue a two-school option.

The board reiterated some of the points made during the building committee's session last month in updating School Committee member William G. Schrade Jr., who had not been able to attend.

The school building committee unanimously voted to present the Massachusetts School Building Authority with a $52 million plan to build a new Greylock Elementary School and to renovate vacant Conte Middle School into an elementary school.

Parents of children at Sullivan School, which would be vacated, had expressed doubts about the safety of Conte in the downtown and lamented the loss of a the quiet neighborhood school.

Committee member Mary Lou Accetta said she had spoken to "a couple of dozen" protesting parents who have since been somewhat assured after the superintendent said their concerns would be address.

"I think that has mitigated a lot of the fear," said Accetta, who recalled that "one of the parents from Sullivan spoke very eloquently and said that the essence that was Sullivan School was going to go with it. .. that it wasn't the building but the sense of community."

Schrade his concern was that in voting for two schools, the entire project was endangered.

"I'm a parent of Sullivan; the school is in dire need," he said. "I just don't want to see two schools, actually, possibly be lost because of this situation."

Mayor Richard Alcombright, chairman of the School Committee, said school officials shared the same concern but were swayed by the confidence of Margo Jones, the project architect, that the SBA would at minimum authorize one school.

"She very strongly said if they don't allow two schools you'll get one," said Alcombright. "The hands just went up ... I think the vote was not only affirmative it had a lot of mustard in it." 

The city will not know until November if the SBA will approve the project; should the state OK only one school, the mayor's opinion is that it would be Greylock.

"I think if it came down to one building, [the committee would] have to come together again, and take that through and figure out what the best solution is for the community," he said.

The School Committee voted unanimously to support the project; the mayor said he would bring a similar resolution to the City Council.

In other business:

:: The committee is closing in on completing a new policy handbook. The final sections were distributed for review.

:: The committee also discussed changes to policy on renting out the Drury auditorium. Superintendent James Montepare said the major change was to clarify that the very expensive audiovisual equipment was not included. Board members discussed raising the fee of $350 for for-profit renters.

:: The public schools will hold parent orientation programs on Tuesday, Sept. 13, from 6 to 7:30 at Brayton, Sullivan and Greylock elmentary schools. Parent orientation at Drury High will be Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 6:30 to 8:30 and will be preceded by a meeting for seniors and their parents at 5:30.

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