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McCann Tech Awards $2.9M HVAC Building Contract
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
04:07PM / Saturday, September 16, 2023
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The McCann Technical School Committee voted Thursday to award a contract for construction of the new HVAC building.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — McCann Technical School officials are hoping to get students into the HVAC technician classrooms by February next year. 
The School Committee on Thursday night awarded the contract for the 5,800 square-foot building to Salco Construction of Pittsfield, which came in with the low bid of about $2.9 million. 
Salco has worked on a range of local construction projects from residential homes to larger enterprises such as the Berkshire Museum renovation and Jiminy Peak. Bradley Architects was the designer.
McCann received a $3,110,000 state Skills Capital Grant last year to implement the new heating, ventilation and air conditioning program. This would include the new building on the school's campus as well as equipment for the program. 
The bid came in higher than planned but Superintendent James Brosnan assured the committee the school had enough to cover the increased cost and would look at other grant opportunities for help with equipment.
"I'll look at other grants to come in and help with that piece as we go and we'll get to tier that too because as we start it's not like 100 percent occupied both sides, both shops," he said. "I intend to do an awful lot of work with corporate America on donations of trainers and equipment. I'm comfortable we can go ahead."
Students are taking the program this fall as an exploratory and it will take four years for the program to be filled out. The contract will depend on negotiated timelines as there's a push to get students into the building by this winter. 
"It's a little more money than we had originally planned. But the building is a little bit larger than we had planned also. According to Mr. Brosnan, we have the money to do it," said committee member Richard Bernardi.
Committee member David Westall said the higher price was "about spot on" considering the estimates were a year old and the building is nearly 600 square feet larger than anticipated. 
"The estimates we put together for the grant that you had to apply for was almost a year ago. An estimate based upon a blank piece of paper with a building that we thought would be about 5,200 to maybe 5,300 square feet," he said. "The building ended up being between 5,800 and 5,900 square feet. It is not wasted space, but needed space for the actual building program and what the architects ended up designing."
Westall said he would have liked a third bidder, but the project only received two bids with the second higher at $3.4 million.
The committee also approved a school improvement plan that was mainly tweaked from last year. 
Principal Justin Kratz said there were five goals this year: to implement the standards-based grading and an advisory pgoram that they had been building; reducing the achievement gap; improving student engagement through things like pep rallies and getting the school store reopened; and continuing the school council's community service initiative. 
Kratz said one part of addressing the achievement gap is through the student success team, an intervention and support initiative.
"It's a referral process that the teachers, when students are struggling in their classrooms, it requires that the student success team and the teacher goes then to interact to support that student before referral to special education or higher level services are put in place," said Kristin Steiner, director of student services.
Laurie Casna, former superintendent in Central Berkshire Regional, did some professional development training with the team last month to help prepare the team's deployment.  
Chair Gary Rivers, the school's former principal, said he was impressed with the improvement plan, saying it could be used as a template for at least the next four or five years. 
Kratz said initial enrollment numbers for incoming freshmen was at about 128, Grades 10 and 11 around 140 each and seniors were 111. During the summer, the numbers for incoming students was closer to 140 and so was reduced somewhat because of the difficulties the school has had scheduling the larger classes. 
In the past, there had been some trickling out but it isn't happening now, he said. "If we had 140 across all four grades, we'd be dead in the water."
In other business:
The committee closed the books on fiscal 2023 with the transfers to balance accounts and surplus amounts to the excess and deficiency account that now stands at $290,448.22.
The committee approved two amendments to the admissions policy: the third round of applications deadline will be at the end of the school year and a language about having to pass all classes to be accepted will be removed. Kratz said it was difficult to get information from sending schools during the summer and disruptive to let students know where they will be going two weeks before school starts. The latter was being removed as it is not in line with the state guidelines and that students are already being assessed on grades so it was essentially unneeded. 
Kratz reported the use of Yondr pouches to lock up cell phones is going well. "We had some lines out here but now we're getting the kids in the building pretty quickly," he said. "They're coming through, they've got their phones out their pouches ready to go."
There have been very few phone sightings in the school and students are also exiting the school quickly in the afternoon to get to their phones, he said. 
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