WILLIAMSTOWN -- While Mount Greylock Regional School District officials wait to hear if the state will support a new or renovated high school, they're faced with addressing some immediate issues that threaten the school's programming and accreditation.
The school district's building subcommittee discussed Thursday night how some of those issues could possibly be addressed, including a fire curtain containing asbestos in the auditorium and the poor condition of the school's science labs.
Carrie Greene, chairwoman of the building subcommittee, said even if the Massachusetts School Building Authority invites Mount Greylock into its program this year, it would still be another three to five years before the district had a new or renovated high school.
"Whether we get into the MSBA program or not, this is an issue," she said.
Subcommittee member Jenny Gerrard agreed, adding that having the science labs in the current state they're in isn't fair to the students currently attending Mount Greylock.
The condition of the school's science labs is one of the long-standing and unresolved issues identified by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Inc., which is responsible for awarding the school's accreditation. Mount Greylock's accreditation has been on warning status for about seven years.
With the organization planning to visit Mount Greylock on Oct. 4, the Building Subcommittee agreed to look into three alternatives that could temporarily give students access to working science labs for physics, chemistry and biology. One of those solutions would involve renovating the school's existing science labs to make them functional again, while another would be to rent modular classrooms where science labs could be held. A third option involves expanding an initiative, which currently gives students in advanced placement physics and chemistry classes access to labs at Williams College, to students in other science labs.
Aside from the science labs, the use of Mount Greylock's auditorium is in jeopardy due to some building code issues, including a decades-old fire curtain that contains asbestos.
Rose Ellis, superintendent of Williamstown and Lanesborough Public Schools, said the fire curtain is supposed to be lowered in front of the stage if there is a fire to protect the audience from flames and smoke. Even if it isn't used, a fire curtain should be lowered once a year to be inspected, and to her knowledge, there is no record of it ever being lowered, she said.
"We're now in a situation where if we take it down, we have to encase it, which means it can't be used," she said.
Currently, the school is in discussions with Fire Chief Craig Pedercini and Building Commissioner Michael Card to find out its options, she said.
Subcommittee member John Benzinger said a new fire curtain could cost roughly $30,000. Ellis said if the school ends up having to take that option, then they may just close the auditorium.
To reach Meghan Foley, email