North Adams Preparing School Project Reports

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff
05:09AM / Thursday, January 19, 2023

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Department is preparing five components for its application to the Massachusetts School Building Authority for the Brayton/Greylock project.
The consultants on the project updated the School Building Committee on those factors on Tuesday and Matthew Sturz of owner's project manager Colliers International reviewed the timeline and budget to date. 
Julia McFadden of TSKP Studio said the reports would be submitted by April 26 to move the project into the preliminary design phase.
"The first one is one that we've already completed, which was the educational visioning that occurred just this last fall and wrapped up in December," she said. "The second piece that I want to work with Dr. Malkas and other members of her team getting going on is the educational specifications. So that's a document that needs to be put together that outlines your existing programs and kind of existing pedagogy."
The third piece is site development requirements, looking at the infrastructure and other legalities at both schools, and the fourth is the existing conditions of the buildings. 
"Quite a number of our consultants made site visits this fall. We've already received some reports from some of them," McFadden said, adding that she should be able to provide an update on those reports in February. 
The fifth piece will be putting together the enrollment data and "inputting that into the MSBA spreadsheets for various options."
That will require outlining what those various options are, she said, including space available for program pieces. 
 "We're looking to work on all of that through probably March and then there's some budgeting and cost that has to put be put to each of those options," McFadden said. "And then, with Matt, pulling together the final submission by April 26."
Superintendent Barbara Malkas said the current enrollment projects from the state appear to include a 10 percent buffer, in response to a question from Mayor Jennifer Macksey about the higher numbers. She said she would be working to clarify those figures this week. 
"Once I have a report from MSBA regarding the projected enrollment, I will be presenting that to the committee as a whole to understand what their values, with regards to square footage, and reimbursement are coming from," she said.
The superintendent said MSBA had also asked for the floor plans of the three elementary schools and the location and capacity of the classrooms. 
One of the options that could come out of the preliminary reports is switching to grade-span schools — having children in kindergarten through 2 go to one school and Grades 4 to 6 another. 
Malkas said she had discussed this with MSBA on Tuesday and that Diane Sullivan, director of program management, "was very clear to once again re-emphasize that this work is part of our due diligence ... it does not supersede the authority of this committee or the School Committee, and making those decisions."
She said it was "really an exploration and the development of an understanding of the square footage for our building projects. And what the considerations would be with regards to reimbursement around that square footage."
Committee member Richard Alcombright noted that Malkas had referred to the "west side" when speaking about a K-2 school. That is just an option, Malkas said, adding it was just in her thinking because Colegrove Park Elementary "was built originally as a high school and then a middle school. It does have multiple floors, which can be difficult for little legs." 
For now, those options are being referred to as upper and lower elementary because which school would better for which grades had not been decided yet, she said.
The project is currently back in the "eligibility" phase because of the stop and start that occurred after MSBA recommended that the city not pursue a renovation of Greylock. Brayton School was added to the project, although Macksey has said Greylock is not yet out of the mix. 
Sturz said the expectation was to move out of renewed eligibility and back into feasibility in March. 
The eligibility phase was budgeted it at approximately six weeks to complete the remaining work to enter the preliminary design phase. Once accepted into that phase, there will be 17 weeks to submit a preferred schematic report on a preferred option, due Aug. 31 in anticipation of a MSBA board vote on Oct. 26 to enter the schematic phase. 
Sturz said the MSBA may be willing to entertain an extension of the feasibility stage but did not think the committee should count on that. 
The expectation is that the committee would begin looking for funding and public support in the fall with a vote by April 2024 at the earliest.