Renovation underway for School Department's move into North Adams City Hall

New offices are seen in the process of being renovated as North Adams prepares to have the school department's administrative offices relocated from Main Street to City Hall.

NORTH ADAMS — A new wall here, a fresh coat of paint there, and City Hall should soon be ready for School Department employees.

The city now has a clear timeline for the School Department's move into City Hall and has begun the process of restructuring offices to accommodate more than 30 additional employees.

The transition of the public school system's administrative headquarters from Main Street over to City Hall is expected to save the city a rent payment of more than $75,000 annually.

The School Department will take over most of City Hall's second floor, while city employees on the second floor will soon head into new spaces on the first floor.

Except for the mayor's office — which will remain on the second floor — city staff will be cleared out of the second floor by the end of the year, according to Administrative Officer Michael Canales.

"They're already working on renovating the rooms as we're exiting them," Canales said.

The goal is to have the entire administrative offices of the School Department in City Hall by about April 2019, according to North Adams Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Malkas.

School administrators have a floor plan completed and will move employees over in phases, as it is convenient. Various members of the staff are busiest at different times of the year, depending on their responsibilities, so Malkas said the department will allow them to move at a time that is least intrusive on their schedules.

"It would be easier if we were moving in the summer, but missed that window of opportunity," Malkas said. "We're trying to make sure we're moving people at times where it will be least disruptive."

The move is a cost-cutting measure, eliminating the rent the city paid to a private landlord for use of the Main Street office space that totaled $78,000 annually.

The administrative offices were formerly in the Silvio O. Conte Middle School, but were moved in 2013 in preparation of that building's renovation into Colegrove Park Elementary School. The city signed a three-year lease on the Main Street offices in 2013, followed by a two-year extension.

In the years since the school department first rented space on Main Street, the city has trimmed staffing in city departments or moved staff out of city hall. For example, when the city purchased a new Department of Public Works headquarters on Hodges Cross Road, it made use of office space there.

The city will make use of vacant former judges' chambers and offices from when the building also served as a local court, nestled behind City Council chambers in City Hall, to accommodate city departments.

Preparing the offices will not be a substantial cost to the city and can be accommodated within the current budget.

For school administrators, the new offices on the second floor will be a bit of a tighter fit.

"There's certainly more than enough offices available," Malkas said. "The offices are smaller than what we've had here, but we don't need big spaces. It's better for us to think about what is essential to running an efficient organization and, in doing that, think about exactly what we need to."

As part of the restructuring, the North Adams Municipal Employees Credit Union will be relocated a new office at 26 Union St. The BerkshireWorks office at City Hall is still looking for a new home.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.