NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 4, 2013

School board OKs West Newbury's lease agreement

Document is slightly different from that of Merrimac, Groveland

WEST NEWBURY — The Pentucket School Committee has approved language in an agreement with the town of West Newbury that is slightly different than wording in similar agreements with the other two towns in the regional school district.

The difference lies in who undertakes emergency repairs on Pentucket’s four elementary school buildings.

At least one committee member, Chris Reading of West Newbury, is concerned that the difference could be viewed by the state as out of sync with the Pentucket Regional Agreement, the document that binds the three towns together into a regional school district.

In practice, West Newbury, Groveland and Merrimac lease their elementary school buildings to Pentucket, but West Newbury is the only town to hold a formalized lease agreement.

Work on finalizing leases with all three towns is nearing its conclusion. In general the proposed leases state that the district will rent the elementary school buildings for $1. The leases run from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2030. West Newbury’s current lease expires in June.

The leases state that responsibility for improvements, maintenance, repairs and replacements should be determined in accordance with the regional agreement. According to a stipulation in a recently adopted update of the regional document, when it comes to maintenance, the language in all leases must be identical.

Last November the Pentucket board approved language for leases with Groveland and Merrimac stating that the district must notify selectmen in writing of any emergency work needed on a town’s elementary school. Within three hours of receiving the written notification, the town will acknowledge the emergency and proceed with the repair, the leases state.

But language approved on Tuesday for the lease of the Dr. John C. Page Elementary School in West Newbury differs. West Newbury is choosing instead to maintain the same wording in its emergency repair clause that exists in its current agreement. In this case, the district is still obligated to notify town leaders but it is the district — not the town — that is tasked with undertaking any emergency repairs.

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