ADAMS -- Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School has announced preliminary plans for a building expansion at its current location on Commercial Street.
Pamela Johnson, chairwoman of the school's board of trustees, gave a teaser to the announcement at the top of Friday's annual fall breakfast for community members and school advocates.
"Without giving too much away, hopefully this will be the last time we have [this breakfast] in this room," she said.
The event was held in the school's multipurpose atrium, which Executive Director Julia Bowen calls the "cafegymatorium," which serves as a cafeteria, gymnasium and auditorium, perfectly illustrating the need for more space. It's also a thoroughfare for students moving in between classes and is the theater for when the school holds plays.
Bowen said the goal is to have the total project cost come in at around $2.8 million.
"We're hoping to only borrow as much as needed to stay within our current debt payment," she said.
Though BART isn't eligible to receive any funding through the Massachusetts School Building Authority, it is, as a public school, subject to the state's public bidding laws.
The school once shared its 33,000-square-foot space with other businesses, but the businesses have since moved or closed, giving BART room to expand internally using the full building.
Now, in its 10th year, the school renewed its charter in January and increased its enrollment cap from 308 to 363 students. The school currently serves 330 students in Grades 6 through 12, from 15 communities in Berkshire County.
"It's exciting. I've been going here for four years and have been waiting for an expansion," said sophomore Lauren Cornell, who, as a student ambassador for the school gave building tours to Friday's visitors.
Her fellow ambassador, junior Tyler Ethier, has been with the school since sixth grade.
"There weren't many of us here to start, but we grew and grew and grew as word spread that this is a good school, and now we'd give anything to have an addition," he said. Both he and Cornell indicated the school's "one way" system for students to follow as they pass through their classes, to avoid congestion in the school's narrow halls.
This fall, the school did renovate a computer lab to bring it up to code as a science laboratory, which Ethier said he's "ecstatic" about. The school previously lacked a lab.
School officials and members of the facilities committee have been discussing for the past three years how the building could expand spatially to offer separate areas for dining, fitness and assembly activities.
Preliminary schematic plans have been drawn up to show the concept of the two-floor expansion.
The schematics were drawn by Margo Jones Architects, the same group that worked on the recent Hoosac Valley Middle and High School project and is consulting with North Adams Public Schools for its Conte Middle School renovation plans.
The BART plan would build out of the north side of the current facility, where the parking lot is. The plans include first-floor gymnasium, cafeteria, stage and vestibule spaces. The second floor includes additional spaces for cardiovascular fitness, yoga and dance as well as storage.
Currently, physical education classes are held either in the atrium, in the parking lot when there are no cars, or classes walk the adjacent bicycle trail to Russell Field.
Though still in the early phases of development, Bowen said the school's facilities committee plans to work with Adams officials to make sure any renovations and construction are done according to state and town regulations.
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