ADAMS -- Berkshire Arts & Technology Charter Public School (BART) has been given the go-ahead to grow by a figure of 55 children.
The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted Tuesday to approve charter changes allowing BART to increase enrollment and add Pittsfield as a city the regional school serves. BART's enrollment cap increased from 308 to 363 with the state board's ruling. School officials applied for early charter renewal last April.
BART Executive Director Julia Bowen said Thursday the school is budgeting for 15 to 20 new students next year.
"We're projecting to phase in [higher numbers of students] over time," Bowen said. "We want to be prepared, and that much growth over one year would be challenging."
The school is currently in the enrollment process and has seen a 30 percent boost in applications, according to Bowen. A wait list will be established at the close of enrollments. Last year's waiting list had 40 students.
Parents of prospective students were hosted at the school Thursday for a well-attended information session, Bowen said.
The charter renewal means a boost in funding thanks to added students, and leverage to negotiate a loan that will enable capital improvements on the building.
Bowen identified this as BART's next project.
"We're definitely turning focus to a whole number of improvements we'd like for the building," she said.
Officials aim to expand the auditorium, create a fitness space and reconfigure to allow for new science labs, a library and additional classrooms. They expect to take out a loan with a Boston or Washington, D.C., bank after the school's $4.6 million in long-term debt is refinanced.
Pittsfield students, already 30 percent of the school's student population, will now receive the same preference as Northern Berkshire students.
Bowen called the development a "win for Pittsfield students."
"We bus [students] to and from the city, and for working families, that's critical."
Before Pittsfield joined the charter, BART was obligated by state law to give enrollment preference to students from the towns of its original charter: Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, Lanesborough, North Adams, Savoy and Williamstown.
All of BART's 10th grade students' MCAS scores were proficient or advanced in 2012 and this year's senior class increased from 9 in 2012 to 24.
To reach Phil Demers, email