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North Adams Closes Books on Colegrove Park School
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
03:30AM / Wednesday, September 06, 2017
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The state completed its audit and made its final grant payment on Colegrove Park Elementary School.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The books have closed on the Colegrove Park Elementary School project nearly 18 months after it opened. 
The finally tally is $29,084,907, with the city responsible for $7,057,296.53. The city's portion is $402,251.53, over the initial projection of $6.6 million. It comes to about 1.4 percent of the project cost.
The overage is largely because of insurance carrying costs because the project went several months past its deadline and additional plaster work in the century-old building, said Superintendent Barbara Malkas at Tuesday's School Committee meeting. 
"When you think about a project that lasted three years from when we started to the end, that's just a little over 1 percent over on this project, which in any other environment would be an incredible success when you consider some of the things that we happened on," Mayor Richard Alcombright said.
The three-story stone structure built in 1915 as Drury High School was completely renovated to house more than 300 elementary school children. The school, then Silvio O. Conte Middle School, was closed in 2009 as a cost-saving measure and because of its condition. 
The city in 2008 applied to the MSBA for a solution to overcrowding in its elementary schools. Several other options were rejected as being too costly and structurally problematic (rehabbing Sullivan School), as not addressing the more serious condition of Sullivan (renovating Greylock) or simply failed to win over any supporters (building a new school for 620 kids at Greylock). MSBA also shot down a query about a two-school option: Conte and Greylock.
But the rehabilitation of the old Drury divided residents over costs and need, forcing a citywide vote that won it narrow approval in 2013. Since opening, it's gotten largely positive reviews and won a preservation award from the Massachusetts Historical Commission.
It currently holds 357 children in prekindergarten through Grade 6, with three more possibly attending.
"It's a very positive end result," School Committee member John Hockridge said. "It's a very beautiful building and anybody who's done a houes renovation knows they can go little bit over ... I think it's remarkable that it came in so close."
The school was targeted to open in fall 2015 but delays blamed on the general contractor pushed its opening to January 2016. The insurance carried by the city during the extended construction phase came to about $158,000. 
The additional plaster work came to about $139,000; the other overages were about $77,000 in work on Colegrove Park (in front of the school) and another $25,000 for state-mandated environmental work. None of the overages were eligible for MSBA reimbursement.
Of the $27 million in eligible costs submitted to the MSBA, the state agency paid $21,750,210, or 80 percent. The final grant payment of $1,063,062 was made on July 7. 
Malkas, who was hired after the school opened, was provided the numbers prepared by Business Manager Nancy Ziter, who was unable to attend the meeting. Malkas said the city has $8.5 million in borrowing that at the end of the fiscal year on June 30, stood at $8.1 million. 
Alcombright commended Ziter for her work on tracking the project's finances, describing it as an "exhausting, difficult process." He also praised the School Committee and School Building Committee for their support, as well as the project's designers and managers for being strong advocates and troubleshooters.
"I said this is as much about education as it is about our historical commitment to the city," the mayor said. "To rebuild a building like that in the heart of the downtown isn't a bad thing. ...
"We did the right thing as a committee and we did the right thing as a city."

Colegrove Park Elementary Audit 2017 by on Scribd

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