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North Adams School Project Approved by MSBA
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
04:07PM / Wednesday, November 14, 2012
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The Massachusetts School Building Authority on Wednesday approved funding for the Conte School project.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's been given the go-ahead from the state School Building Authority to move forward with the $30 million Conte School project.

The MSBA board on Wednesday approved the schematic design submitted and voted to authorize a total of $23,180,316 toward the project. That's the maximum the city is eligible for with 80 percent reimbursement.

"It's a great day for the city and a great day for the public school system," said Mayor Richard Alcombright from the road. He and Superintendent James M. Montepare had attended the meeting in Boston. 

He estimated that their part took about 10 minutes, no questions were asked and the board voted unanimously. "We just kind of walked in and did a brief summation to the board," he said. "They do a lot of their homework up front so this kind of moves along really well."

Also at the Wednesday's meeting, Monument Mountain Regional High School's proposed $52 million science wing was advanced to the schematic design phase.

The mayor credited MSBA officials as being instrumental in helping the school system through some of the rougher spots of the process when questions and concerns had been raised on both sides ranging from public participation to costs to building decisions.

"Jack McCarthy [MSBA executive director] and [Treasurer and MSBA Chairman] Steven Grossman and the board are very, very committed to the project," said Alcombright.

Grossman, in a statement, said the plans for the addition and renovation at the Conte are "a direct result of a collaborative partnership forged by North Adams officials and the MSBA."

"We look forward to helping deliver an efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective project that will meet the community's educational demands and save local and state taxpayer resources," he said.

The school district and the MSBA will next enter into a "Project Funding Agreement," which will detail the project's scope and budget and set forth the terms and conditions under which the city will receive its grant from the MSBA. 

Silvio O. Conte Middle School, formerly the high school, will be renovated into a K-7 elementary school to serve 300 children. The scope of the work includes renovation of the 77,300-square-foot 1917 building and 2,700 square feet of new construction. Additional parking space and outdoor play areas will also be constructed. The project is part of the consolidation of the school district into three K-7 schools and one 8-12 high school; Sullivan School on Kemp Avenue is being closed in favor of Conte's renovation.

The mayor now has 120 days to ask the City Council for bonding for the project. He expect to come before the council in January, or possibly as early as the last meeting in December. The council will get an update on the project at its Nov. 27 meeting when the architects and project manager will appear along with the School Building Committee.

Alcombright wasn't sure what the committee's exact role will be moving forward but expected its members to continue to be heavily involved. "I will insist there be a tremendous oversight of the project," he said.

"It's just a really good feeling to know we've got this under our belt," said Alcombright.
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