NORTH ADAMS --The cost of the city's school building feasibility study has increased by $100,000 -- the result of including additional designs for Sullivan Elementary School, additional public forums and the required hiring of a independent consultant to assess the former middle school.
Although the city will be responsible for only 20 percent of the increase -- $20,000 -- the Massachusetts School Building Authority has required that city and school officials prove there is cash on hand to cover the cost.
"Essentially, we just have to show the MSBA that we have the money available," Nancy Ziter, the city's business manager said during Tuesday night's meeting of the North Adams School Committee.
To cover the costs, the School Committee unanimously approved $100,000 in School Choice Funds to be earmarked to cover the increase.
"What it boils down to is the School Committee is advancing the cash to cover this," Mayor Richard J. Alcombright said. "The school district is fronting the cash, which will be reimbursed fully."
In September 2008, the City Council approved a $680,000 borrowing order for the feasibility study, of which 80 percent will be reimbursed by the MSBA.
"Our bond is for $680,000, but the city is only responsible for $136,000 of that," he said. "At the end of the day, we'll have plenty of capital left to cover the $20,000 increase in our share. Our total responsibility will now be $156,000. The impact
School Committee members also reviewed Drury High School's new E3 Academy, which is part of the restructuring of the district's Community Transition Program.
"We're revamping our alternative and out-of-school time programming," Superintendent James E. Montepare said. "Some of the students who were in CTP were already at the high school part-time and we've moved them back there full-time with support. Others are going to the Positive Options Program at Berkshire Com munity College."
The E3 Academy, which will be offered initially to eight to 10 students at the former Silvio O. Conte Middle School, will focus on the competencies and skills necessary for high school graduation, he said.
"This program is designed a little differently than the traditional 180-day school year, four-years of high school graduation requirement," Drury Principal Amy Meehan said. "The students will do more integrated project-based assessments. Once they show competency in a skill set, they move on. It's not bound by seat time, which will allow for some of our over-age but under-credited students to graduate."
The program is based on three areas -- essential skills, such as English and math, effort and employability.
Committee member Mary Lou Accetta said she was worried that some students, who are behind in credits, would see this program as a more viable option that a traditional setting.
"We don't want people to think the E3 Academy is an easy out," Montepare said. "The students in this program have been selected after a careful analysis. We have a whole host of pathways to college and career to support students who are struggling or just need a path that is a little different than the traditional classroom."
In other business, the committee approved an increase in school lunch prices from $1.75 to $2 for students and from $3.25 to $3.50 for adults. School lunch prices are being slowly increased to comply with federal regulations that require student lunch prices match the reimbursement rate paid to the district by the government for students receiving free and reduced lunches.