HARVARD -- In a vote taken by the School Committee, members decided to inform the town administrator of their intention to move the schools' central offices from Bromfield House to new space that would offer more room and a more up-to-date infrastructure.
The move came after some discussion on the subject at the board's meeting of Dec. 9 when school Superintendent Joseph Connelly reported that in addition to not having the square footage needed for the central offices, upgrading the 100-year-old building for modern equipment as well as making it ADA compliant (Americans with Disabilities Act), would be needlessly expensive.
Talk of the inadequacy of Bromfield House as a location for the schools' offices began earlier in the fall with an exchange of letters between Connelly and Town Administrator Tim Bragan. That exchange included a review of the bequest of Margaret Blanchard that left the house in the town's hands and confirmed that if sold, proceeds of the sale must be used for educational purposes.
In a letter dated Oct. 9, Bragan acknowledged an inquiry by Connelly about the possibility of moving the schools' central offices to another location in town, one preferred by School Committee members that would be close to the town center.
In his letter, Bragan suggested the Old Library currently leased to community group Arts On The Common as a potential place to relocate the offices or Town Hall itself, which is in line for a rehabilitation that would leave space available on the ground floor as well as the second floor hall.
Bragan, however, dismissed possible use of Hildreth House, the Police Station or the DPW facility, leaving the schools' options limited.
Connelly advised against another possibility, that of converting empty classroom space into offices in one of the school buildings. He warned that if in a few years student enrollment climbs, they might need the space again and end up back in the same predicament they find themselves currently.
Sentiment on the School Committee was in favor of finding a way to keep the offices in or close to the town's center where school buildings are located.
But the overriding concern of committee members was to get the ball rolling on finding new quarters before time runs out. For that reason, they voted to inform Bragan of their intent to discontinue use of Bromfield House for educational purposes pending identification of other acceptable space in town.
With the decision, a letter will be sent to the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee, informing them of the committee's decision.