Subcommittee to weigh name for renovated Conte school in North Adams


NORTH ADAMS -- A subcommittee has been formed and is slated to recommend a new -- or old -- name for the renovated Silvio O. Conte Middle School building in coming weeks.

At a School Committee meeting this week, Superintendent James Montepare said the new subcommittee will meet in the coming weeks and should have a recommendation by April.

The School Committee has deliberated over the process for naming the school, set to reopen as an elementary school in the fall of 2015. Members agreed at the last meeting to form a subcommittee that would review possible names.

Montepare said he followed Massachusetts School Building Authority guidelines in forming the committee, which includes a mix of community members, school administrators and city staff.

The committee will be comprised of Montepare, Mayor Richard Alcombright, John Hockridge of the School Committee, Justyna Carlson of the Historical Commission, Ron Superneau of the School Building Committee, the Rev. David Anderson, pastor of the First Baptist Church, and citizen Steve Green.

"[The subcommittee] will decide whether a new name is needed, isn't needed, and if so, what the process for the naming and procedure will be," Montepare.

Community residents can voice their opinions by contacting his office or committee members, Montepare said.

"I'm open to anyone who would want to make a comment," Montepare said, but added "I'm not going to put a survey out by any means."

At the meeting Tuesday, there was confusion over whether the School Committee or the subcommittee would have the final say on the building's title. Ultimately, the committee agreed it would have the last vote.

The committee reviewed its policy on naming a school, which discourages from naming it under political pressure or after currently serving politicians.

The School Committee also received an update on the renovation project from Alcombright after subcontracting bids came in last week nearly $1 million over budget.

The mayor said that if general contracting bids come in on target, the School Building Committee may be able to subtract plans from the renovation to even out the roughly $30 million budget -- which Alcombright said he will not exceed.

"We'll have some decisions to make," Alcombright said. "What can we lose, what can we not?"

Another potential option, if the general contracting bid is also significantly over budget, is to re-bid the project, Alcombright said. But sending out another request for the work could delay the school's opening, Alcombright noted.

Alcombright told the committee he has received several calls from contractors saying that a prequalification standard in the previous bid package -- that the contractor has worked on a state-funded project valued at least $5 million within the past 5 years -- was too demanding.

"There were several, if not many, contractors who were qualified that didn't meet that piece," Alcombright said. "I would guess if we rebid it we would probably see more people bid."


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