ADAMS -- A year’s time may bring some ambitious changes to Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School (BART) if school officials realize the goals they’ve recently put forward.
A press release from BART executive director Julia Bowen on Monday detailed plans to increase the school’s cap on students, add Pittsfield to its charter as a city served and take on a sizable building expansion.
The plans are geared at one thing above all else: growth.
"The more students we have, the more interesting a high school program we can offer," Bowen said in an interview Monday. "As the number of students has grown bigger and bigger, the program has become stronger."
The keystone is renewing the school’s charter.
Filed earlier in 2012 with the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the application to renew the school’s charter, if accepted, will increase the student cap from 308 to 363 and add Pittsfield as a city served by way of several charter renewal amendments attached by school officials.
"I think we’ve provided [the board] with everything they’ve asked for to make a decision," Bowen said. "They’ll deliberate over it and at some point during this school year, will give us a decision, most likely in December, January or February."
A charter renewal would also allow BART officials to refinance the school’s $4.6 million debt, primarily incurred
This project would see an auditorium added to the building to house a theater arts program and double as a lunch space. Included in the project layout are plans to revamp the building to accommodate for extra science labs, a new library space and additional classrooms.
"The timeline here is the state needs to approve our amendments and renewal, and that gives us the ability to refinance," Bowen said. "The [building expansion] plans will be concurrent. We have some rough schematics drawn right now, but just enough to help us estimate a ballpark cost."
Bowen said the final plans would be for "$3 million max" in improvements.
Meanwhile, BART begins school Wednesday with the student population having reached the charter’s cap of 308 for the first time. The senior class of 24 represents a leap forward from 2011’s nine graduates.
"We made great strides last year," Principal Benjamin Klompus said last week. "We are looking to build on those successes this year. I am excited about the quality of our teachers and know that we will serve our students well."
This year, five new employees were hired in math, English, Spanish and college counseling.
To reach Phil Demers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.