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Rowe School replacement: $7.37 million

ROWE — Replacing the destroyed Rowe Elementary School with a comparable building will cost about $7.37 million, according to an engineering report submitted to the town this month.

That estimate is based on building a new school on the existing footprint, with foundations remaining intact and with the same wall configurations. The estimate was developed from existing school building plans from 1960, by Bismark Construction Co. of Milford, Conn.

That sum is about $77,000 more than the estimate given by the town’s insurance adjuster to restore the old structure. However, the adjuster couldn’t guarantee that rebuilding would completely remove mold and odor problems stemming from the Aug. 4 fire, caused by a lightning strike.

It’s also more than the town’s maximum “blanket” insurance coverage of $6.97 million, which includes coverage for demolition of the old building and relocation costs for moving Rowe and enrolled School Choice students to another school location.

Selectmen and school officials have been awaiting a construction estimate, as the town ponders whether to rebuild its own school or consider other options.

At the beginning of the current school year, Rowe School had an enrollment of 36 Rowe children and 22 School Choice students. This year, the Rowe School is housed in classrooms at the Hawlemont Regional School in Charlemont.

The Rowe School Committee is scheduled to vote on demolition of the burned school at its meeting Wednesday, at 5:30 p.m. in the Rowe Historical Society.

According to selectmen’s Chairman Noel Abbott, town officials have decided to form a “building committee” instead of a “school building committee,” so that the new panel can consider all possible options for the school and for other town building needs.

Some residents think this small town of roughly 400 people doesn’t need a school; others think a school will encourage future growth of the town and serves as the heart of the community.

Some residents would like to have a community center built on the school grounds. The selectmen plan to schedule a forum for townspeople to discuss education options. The board has said its residents will decide, by a town meeting vote, on whether to rebuild.

Some of the costs given in the engineering estimate include: demolition (down to slab) $297,600; site work $176,2000; concrete work, using existing foundations $30,000; masonry $451,600; and steel work $532,300.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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