PITTSFIELD -- City and state officials on Tuesday could name the design firm that will be charged with developing options for the replacement or renovation of Taconic High School.
School Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless, Kathleen A. Amuso -- both co-chairs of the Pittsfield School Building Needs Commission -- and Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi will meet in Boston with the Massachusetts School Building Authority to hopefully choose the project architect.
"We may come back with a choice in hand or head back to Boston in January to reach a consensus," noted McCandless.
Once chosen, the architectural firm will develop several options and do preliminary design work for the Taconic project. The district currently is working to determine whether the building should be renovated or replaced, or whether the project should be a combination of the two. It also is factoring in costs as part of the feasibility study.
The school project will receive 78 to 80 percent state reimbursement funding. For the feasibility study phase, which could be finished around the end of 2014, the city has set aside $1.3 million, which also will receive up to 80 percent state funding.
In recent weeks, the commission and SBA have separately reviewed the proposals from 10 architectural firms seeking to do the preliminary design work for a project on the Valentine Road campus. On Tuesday, the Pittsfield delegation and SBA will compare notes and work toward a joint decision.
"They will listen to our top three choices, we'll listen to theirs, and hopefully collaborate on an agreement," said Amuso.
Two weeks ago, the commission approved as its top three choices -- Dore & Whittier of Burlington, Vt., and Newburyport; Kaestle Boos Associates of New Britain, Conn., and Mount Vernon Group Architects Inc. of Wakefield.
In addition to price, experience and staffing factors, Amuso has said the availability of a firm to begin work soon could weigh on the final selection.
Dale Caldwell of Skanska USA, a consulting firm assisting the commission in the designer selection, told the commission earlier this month that during Tuesday's meeting, the submissions from all 10 firms will be reviewed. Representatives from those firms toured Taconic in early November before making an offer to the city and SBA.
However, Taconic senior Kylie Mason, a student representative on the Pittsfield School Committee, was concerned the visit didn't include input from ninth- through 12th-graders
"Who knows the school better than the students?" Mason asked during a recent school board meeting.
McCandless vowed that plenty of public input is forthcoming.
"Once the design firm is selected, student input will be part of the process," he said.
Pittsfield school officials have been collaborating with the SBA on a plan to expand or replace Taconic High, which was built in 1969 on Valentine Road.
While the city and SBA are focused on a new or improved Taconic, they have viewed both city high schools as part of a long-term construction goal. Pittsfield High School was built in 1931, but it is considered to be architecturally and physically in better condition than Taconic and is a candidate for renovation.
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