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Southeast closing proposed

May 12, 2011

Deb Bergman

    Less than two years following a controversial reconfiguration of classrooms throughout the North Adams school district — and the closure of one elementary school building — a member of the North Adams school board has proposed another realignment of building uses.
    "I'd like to consider consolidating again," said board member Deb Bergman as she laid out her proposal "to better utilize buildings" during Tuesday's board of education meeting. Bergman's long-term goal is to create a single-campus facility for all North Adams students. In the shorter term, Bergman recommended closing another school building — Southeast Elementary — as the school district seeks to cut costs amid declining state revenues and dwindling enrollment.
    Monmouth Elementary School was shuttered in the previous round of cost-cutting approved by the board.
    Bergman said building utilization at Southeast currently is at 57 percent, while Northwest Elementary is at 73 percent capacity. She recommended the board consider housing grades K-3 at Northwest, grades 4-7 at Bellmont Middle School, and grades 8-12 at Bellmont High School. There was no suggested timetable for the conversions.
    Bergman suggested there may be some interest by city or county officials in obtaining the Southeast building.
    "We need to develop a three-, five- and 10-year plan," Bergman said.
    "I really like what you're looking at," said board member Tim Ehlerding. "It makes sense to have a single campus."
    Board president Michelle Stimpson suggested that a committee be formed — similar to an ad hoc group appointed two years ago to make recommendations about cost-cutting moves throughout the district — to study another round of reconfiguration.
    Superintendent Wylie Sirk said he would take the necessary steps to form that committee.

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