PITTSFIELD -- The city this week could get the state's go-ahead to conduct a full feasibility study of options for a new or renovated Taconic High School.
The Massachusetts School Building Authority is currently wrapping up review of the latest -- and hopefully last -- information from the Pittsfield Public Schools to complete a nearly four-year pre-feasiblity assessment of Taconic and Pittsfield high schools.
"We're waiting to hear any day," said Kathleen A. Amuso, co-chairwoman of the city's School Building Needs Commission. "We had hoped to hear [Monday], but we didn't."
Project consultant, Dale Caldwell of Skanska USA, also said during Monday's commission meeting he expects the SBA to finally green-light the process of determining the financially and educationally best option for the Taconic campus.
Since early 2010, Pittsfield school officials have been collaborating with the SBA on a plan to expand or replace the 44-year-old high school on Valentine Road. Any project undertaken will receive at least 78 percent reimbursement from the state, possibly bumped up to 80 percent for using green construction methods.
A total of $1.3 million has been set aside by the city as the estimated maximum cost of the feasibility study, an amount also subject to 80 percent reimbursement.
The commission on Monday approved the criteria, procedure and tentative timeline developed by Skanska for choosing an architect, the first step of a likely yearlong feasibility study.
"We are choosing a designer, not a design," said schools Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless.
Once architect and design firms submit proposals, the School Building Needs Commission and SBA will initially review and rank them separately. Commission and SBA representatives will meet jointly in Boston to select what they feel is the best offer.
Whichever firm is selected -- possibly by February -- will first develop several of options and do preliminary design work for Taconic. The primary goal is to determine whether the building should be renovated, built anew, or a combination of the two, which will determine the project's cost. Based on the current timeline, the study could be completed by the end of 2014.
"The designer will be required to look at all options," Caldwell said.
While the city and SBA is focused on a new or improved Taconic, local and state officials view both city high schools as part of any overall building proposal project.
Even though Pittsfield High, built in 1931, is nearly twice as old as Taconic, which opened in 1969, SBA officials have said they prefer to renovate rather than replace, Pittsfield High School because architecturally and physically it's in better condition than Taconic.
To reach Dick Lindsay:
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