Berkshire school renovation advances

The largest public school in southern Berkshire County may get a facelift more than 40 years in the making. 

Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington was built the year Richard Nixon beat Hubert Humphrey — 1968. Since then, curriculum, state codes and educational requirements have changed while the building has remained more or less the same. 

“It’s the only renovation that’ll have been done to this building since it was opened.” 

Dick Coons is a school committee member for the Monument Mountain district that serves Great Barrington, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge.  He’s also the chair of the building committee that recently won state approval to develop and advance a thorough renovation plan.  

“There’s been no major improvements to the infrastructure, the heating system, ventilation system, electrical system, plumbing system.”

Beyond basic code updates, the renovation would add six science labs, an indoor courtyard to improve student flow, and put  more emphasis on the school’s technical and vocational classes— like its horticulture program, which would be moved up the hill to the main campus. 

Superintendent Peter Dillon says a recent public meeting underlined the desire to connect the school’s science and technology training with real-world opportunities.

“So that people aren’t simply stepping into old jobs, that they’re actually on the forefront of creating new jobs, connected to some of the farm to table stuff, sustainability, the creative economy, what does food look like as we go forward, things like that.”

The renovation has an estimated price tag of nearly fifty three million dollars, a little more than half of that would be reimbursed by the state. The school committee hopes to approve a final design by May to go before the district’s voters. A public forum on green building options will be held at the school December 18th.