Town and College collaborate on elementary school project

Williamstown has recently completed construction on a new elementary school. In keeping with historical precedence, as the largest single organization in the town and an indirect beneficiary of the K-12 school system, the College is partially subsidizing the project. Most members of the College faculty send their children to the public school system, so maintaining the high quality of Williamstown schools is in the College’s interest.

The entire project should cost approximately $15 million, and the College has agreed to pay enough money to keep property taxes in the town from rising more than seventy five cents per one thousand dollars of home value. Helen Ouellette, vice president for administration and treasurer, said this will amount to between $1.5 and $2.5 million over the course of the next 10 to 12 years.

The exact amount the College will pay will not be determined until the project is issued state-sponsored bonds, which will happen one or two years after the completion of the construction, but the formula used for computing the cost incurred by taxpayers will attempt to minimize the tax increase as much as possible.

“I think it’s tremendously exciting,” Ouellette said. “Projects of this nature usually are defeated at meetings due to the high burden on tax payers, but because of the College’s help, it passed the first time out.”

The new school is a great improvement over the old facility. Special attention has been paid to improving its layout, an attribute its predecessor lacked. According to Jim Kolesar, director of public affairs, the old facility was a drain on time and efficiency due to its poor layout. In addition, the temperature control at the old school was a problem, but has been fixed in the new building. Often, rooms would be either very hot or very cold at the old school, which was not conducive to learning.

Furthermore, to improve temperature control, the new school has been designed to maximize the amount of natural light, which was a key shortcoming of the old building.

Overall, the College’s reaction to the elementary school has been quite positive. Faculty members with children who reside in the town are pleased that their young children will have the opportunity to attend this facility and taxpayers are pleased that the project will have a low impact on their property taxes.

“Williams is very happy to be able to participate in the process and to be able to contribute to the community,” Kolesar said. Consequently, the new Williamstown Elementary School has had overwhelming support both by the town and those affiliated with the College.

As a result, members of the Williamstown community are looking forward with great anticipation to using the completed school. The new facility will attract both more residents for the town and more faculty for the College. Its benefits will be felt throughout both the college and the town, and it has the wide support a project of this magnitude needs in order to be successful.