City Council Votes to Authorize Statement of Interest Submission for Conte & Crosby School Project

Zach Bianco PCTV News March 28, 2024

During its meeting on Tuesday, March 26th, the Pittsfield City Council made a small yet significant decision regarding the future of Pittsfield Education. The Council discussed and later voted to prove the submission of the Statement of Interest to Massachusetts School Building Authority or MSBA. Superintendent Joseph Curtis, who has been leading the effort, sought the Council’s approval marking the final vote required for the Statement’s submission which is scheduled for Friday, April 12th.

In his presentation to the council Superintendent Curtis made it clear that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to better the educational infrastructure of the city of Pittsfield. Chancellors Serre and Lampiasi sought assurance that this vote was not a vote of obligation. The next steps were outlined by Carl Franceschi, DRA Representative, and Superintendent Curtis.

Councilor Serre: “So this is a letter of intent, not a commitment to move forward?”
Superintended Curtis: “That is correct.”
Councilor Serre: “At what point does the City of Pittsfield need to pull the trigger on a definitive answer on whether they’re going forward with this project?”
Representative Franceschi: “If you submit a Statement of Interest, the next step after discussion and review by the State, they would invite you into an eligibility period. That’s when the City then has to show that they’ve raised the funds allocated the funds and authorized the funding of the Feasibility Study for the project.”
Councilor Serre: “And when do you expect that would occur?”
Representative Franceschi: By the end of the year for this year.”

Councilor Lampiasi voiced her support for the initiative, emphasizing the necessity of progress, particularly for schools like Conte, which she described as quote shocking in their current condition. Counselor Kavey echoed this statement expressing satisfaction with the consolidation plan. He highlighted the potential benefits of such consolidation including easier maintenance and the opportunity to attract students back to Pittsfield schools, especially those who opt for school choice. Said Councilor Kavey, “I think going from eight schools to three would be easier to maintain. It would make more sense…We have an issue with kids school choicing out. I actually spoke at a Career Day in Lennox today, and a lot of the students that I spoke with were from Pittsfield, and came over to speak with me because I’m their representative, and I was trying to ask the,m figure out why are you in Lenox and why aren’t you in our school district?…And a lot of them had said, well, they were in Crosby District when they were younger, they couldn’t get into Stearns because Stearns didn’t have the room. So they ended up at Richmond or Morris and Lennox. Then they ended up staying in that school district.”

Superintendent Curtis concurred with Kavey’s observation, recalling his time as a principal at Conte where parents often expressed concerns about the school’s open concept design. They said at the absence of walls and the potential distraction at pose for certain students. Counselor Costa forcefully stated that this process needs to get goings citing that the City needs to invest into this if they want to see a brighter future for Pittsfield. Said Councilor Costa, “I want to emphasize Councilor Lampiasi’s point, and some other folks, going through those schools, we can’t afford not to do this. We need schools where people want their children to go and I would not want my Children to go to those three schools…We can’t afford to wait any longer. We can’t afford for the sake of the children going to our schools, for the sake of our city that we want to see grow.”

Ultimately, the Council unanimously voted in favor of supporting Superintendent Curtis and submitting the Statement of Interest to the MSBA. The next step after the submission will be a $1.5 million Feasibility Study to determine the needs of the project. The cost will be partially covered by the state with up to 80% reimbursement through the MSBA.

Zach Bianco

Zach Bianco

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