Friday, February 7, 2003
Regional School Committee educates public on CCHS building project
The invitation from the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) to hear the proposed high school space utilization and renovation report was accepted by about thirty Concord and Carlisle residents on Wednesday, January 29. RSC vice-chair Michael Fitzgerald of Carlisle, Douglas Sacra of HMFM Architects, Inc., CCHS Principal Arthur Dulong and Kate Reid, chair of the CCHS space utilization committee, gave a very thorough presentation on the need to press on with the proposed renovation and expansion of the high school in spite of uncertain funding for the $45 million project.
The RSC has approved dividing the project into two phases. (See "RSC adopts two-phase plan for high school renovation" in the December 20, 2002 issue of the Mosquito). Phase one construction, estimated at $18,950,037, would begin in 2005 and would involve demolishing the existing industrial arts ("I") building; renovating the humanities ("H"), science ("S"), library, and gym buildings; and constructing new science and storage buildings. Phase II would involve demolishing the cafeteria; renovating the auditorium ("A" building), little theater, and lower gym; and building a new cafeteria, field house and auditorium.
The bulk of the evening was spent viewing the physical and financial intricacies of the plan with the intention of having construction not interfere with the academic year. Reid, who chaired the twenty-three member space utilization committee, said, "This is a good plan, one that economically and efficiently addresses all needs. It also has the potential to serve the community in better ways." Fitzgerald said the school committee agrees. However, he elaborated, "The issue does face uncertain economic conditions and will impact critical taxpayer dollars."
Responding to another question from the floor about the cost increase if the project is divided into two phases instead of being completed in one, Fitzgerald estimated that about $3 million dollars would be added to the total package if the project is separated into two phases. Another parent hoped the number of lunch periods, now three, would change with the construction of the new lunchroom in phase 2. She said that the first section of lunch is at 10:30 and students go to afternoon sports hungry.
Deteriorating and unworkable
Fitzgerald said that some of the construction would have to be done anyway because the facilities are deteriorating and unworkable. The auditorium is now 40 years old and needs repair, science labs are old and inadequate, and the large shower spaces for the students are in disrepair and rarely used.
One person in the audience asked about the availability of state funding. Fitzgerald made the comment that ordinarily the project could consider 40-50% reimbursement from the state building fund. "But no one knows whether there are funds available. Right now, due to the tenuous nature of state funding, the project is not counting on compensation from any state funds."
Carlisle parent and member of the Carlisle Long-Term Capital Require-ments Committee Len Johnson questioned the science wing and the mix of lab space with classroom space. Dulong said the science classes really present a scheduling headache. Now labs are separate from classroom space and teachers have to go back and forth between rooms depending on the assignment. Dulong said,"The newly designed classrooms incorporating both lab and classroom space would be more efficient in the use of time and space." Carlisle parent and former school committee member Cindy Nock agreed that this year in a science classroom the students had to push chairs around, depending on the curriculum whether the teacher was lecturing, the computers were being used or there was a demonstration on the overhead screen.
The evening turned out to be mainly informational. The audience seemed to consist primarily of town and school officials and project participants with a critical mass from the two communities absent.
© 2003 The Carlisle Mosquito