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Granby special Town Meeting approves $800,000 study of West Street School

GRANBY — Town officials anxious to explore options for the 72-year-old West Street School were happy to win residents’ approval of an $800,000 study of the building at a special Town Meeting on Monday.

“I really think it says a lot about how much the town cares about our school system,” said Mark Bail, a Select Board member and chairman of the School Building Committee after the 70-minute meeting. “They realize we need to do something about West Street School.”

A grant from the Massachusetts School Building Authority will reduce the town’s share of the cost by at least 57 percent, or to around $343,000 or less, said Bail.

All 163 residents who checked in to the meeting at the Granby Junior-Senior High School gymnasium approved the measure on the one-article-warrant for a study that would determine possible options for West Street School, attended by students from pre-kindergarten to Grade 3.

The building at 14 West St. has structural problems that include a failing septic system, as well as windows and heating and ventilation systems that need replacement, Bail said. The study is expected to begin in early 2014 and last for about six months.

Due to updated building codes that would raise costs of renovations, Bail said in an earlier interview that he expects it to be more cost-effective to construct a new building than to attempt repairs on the current building. One possibility would be to construct an addition to East Meadow School, the town’s other elementary school, currently attended by students in Grades 4 to 6, he said. This project would require town approval.

The approved measure also includes an enrollment study to determine whether all elementary grades could be combined in one school.

Superintendent of Schools Isabelina Rodriguez, also a member of the School Building Committee, said the approval of the study is the first step in what she expects to be a long process.

The study will be conducted by an architectural firm and project manager approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

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