As a retired North Adams educator who spent nearly three decades teaching at Conte, I initially opposed the proposal to renovate the building as the city's newest K-7 school. My objections were based on my experience with the building. I could not imagine how the challenges we faced during my time at Conte -- including unreliable heating, ventilation, and plumbing systems -- would be addressed, particularly after several years during which the building has stood vacant and continued to deteriorate. As a result, I was concerned that the building would not serve as an appropriate and safe learning environment for younger students.
I have since had the opportunity to learn more about the project, and have come to recognize that the Conte renovation has been carefully considered, well planned, and responsibly financed. With the investment of local and state resources, we will be able to fully update and renovate the building.
I believe that the North Adams School Building Committee, the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), and the independent consultant brought in to review the proposal have reached the best solution for our community, and for the generation of students and educators who will learn and teach in the new building. The ability for our community to make this investment with a significant reimbursement from the state also makes Conte the right choice.
While my earlier concerns about Conte reflected my past experience, the past is an unreliable barometer. By supporting the Conte school project our community has the opportunity, and the responsibility, to look toward the future. JANE BERNARD