Northern Berkshire students return to new playground, building construction


Photo Gallery | First day of school at BART Charter Public School

ADAMS -- The halls of numerous schools around Berkshire County were filled again this week, with school districts returning for the 2014-15 school year.

For the Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School, which began session on Tuesday, a new year means moving into renovated space inside the building at 1 Commercial St.

Now in its 10th year, the school is in the middle of a $3.8 million expansion project, which officials say is on track to be completed by November.

"They just put the support beams in today," said Principal April West, whose office overlooks the site of the new construction.

A 10,500-square-foot, two-story addition on the existing building's north side features a cafeteria and half-court gymnasium, which will double as an auditorium, and includes a stage for performances. A 5,500-square-foot renovation includes a new main office, space for student services and teacher offices.

It comes at a time when enrollment has reached 340 students, Development Coordinator Leah Thompson said, with the largest ninth-grade class ever. Officials are excited about a larger enrollment, new hires and new elective and enrichment courses, she said.

The school will continue to utilize a multipurpose room as the gymnasium and auditorium until the construction is complete.

Adams-Cheshire Regional School District also started classes on Tuesday.

"We've had a really great day," C.T. Plunkett Elementary School Principal Michelle Colvin said. "We welcomed 476 students. There's lots of new staff and new energy in the building."

It's also the inaugural year for "Plunkett Mega Park," the playground constructed through a fundraising and volunteer effort.

"The students' faces looked like it was Christmas morning today, because for many of them it was the first time they saw it," Colvin said.

Clarksburg seeks principal

For Clarksburg Elementary School, which starts today, a new year means bidding farewell to Principal Linda Reardon.

Northern Berkshire School Union Superintendent Jonathan Lev said the Clarksburg School Committee was set to interview two finalists for the elementary school on Tuesday night. Reardon will be retiring at the end of the month and will stay in her position until then, he said.

It's possible a new principal would be chosen on Tuesday night, Lev said, and could start within two weeks.

The 40 students in Savoy's Emma L. Miller Elementary School were greeted by new Principal Cathy Chapman when they returned last Wednesday, Lev said. Chapman was hired in July at a salary of $69,000.

The Plainfield resident comes from the Greenfield Public School District and started her career as a kindergarten teacher in Savoy, Lev said.

"One of the School Committee members had her for kindergarten, so that was a nice touch," Lev said.

Also returning to session on Tuesday was the Central Berkshire School District.

Districts that start today are Mount Greylock, North Adams, and Williamstown.

McCann Technical High School will return to session on Thursday.

To reach Edward Damon:
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On Twitter: @BE_EDamon


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