Greylock Elementary construction clears first hurdle

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NORTH ADAMS — Fifth time's the charm.

Greylock Elementary School's fifth statement of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority has gained acceptance into the new-school pipeline. After several years of asking, the new-school proposal is ready to start moving through the multiyear process.

The first step is eligibility, which can take up to 270 days, according to North Adams Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Malkas. During this step, informational groundwork will begin, such as appointing a school building committee by members of the School Committee, she said. Information will be gathered to define the educational plan and long-term enrollment projections.

Once that step is done, the next step is putting together the construction team. The steps that follow include a feasibility study, schematic design, funding, detail design, construction and construction completion.

Malkas said the feasibility study alone could take up to a year, and the entire process could go as long as seven years.

She noted that, during the process, the school's long-term educational plan will be defined, and it will determine what features a new building would need. The long-term enrollment projections will determine how big it should be and, at that point, officials can begin to figure out a design for the structure and whether it can be achieved with renovation of the current structure, a completely new building, or a combination of the two.

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Because it's so early in the process, Malkas could not speculate on a potential cost.

Historically, the state has picked up 31 to 80 percent of the cost, depending on the particulars of the project, according to Maria Puopolo, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

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The current structure was built in 1953, Malkas said. Because of its age, there are a number of challenges, including a flat roof that has become somewhat weepy, glass bricks that have invited water seepage, an old boiler and a lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

She noted that, during the process, the MSBA provides "robust research and technical assistance along the way."

"We need a secure, healthy, watertight building with a viable heating system," she said.

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Malkas said that, as a part of the project, plumbing and electrical systems will be upgraded, more outlets will be installed to allow for charging stations, and there will be broader bandwidth for Wi-Fi access points.

She said this is the very beginning of a long process that, over time, will better define the scope and cost of the project.

"There are a lot of steps along the way, and we haven't even gotten our toes in the water yet," Malkas said.

Greylock Elementary School Principal Sandra Cote declined to comment because she was not given permission by the superintendent.

Scott Stafford can be reached at sstafford@berkshireeagle.com or 413-629-4517.


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