Friday, November 19, 2004
RSC begins new study of CCHS buildings and facilities
The Regional School Committee (RSC) has authorized a new study of the Concord-Carlisle High School facility. "To give you some of the recent background on the current thought process," explained committee member and Carlisle resident Michael Fitzgerald in an e-mail communication, "now that Brenda [Superintendent Brenda Finn] has got her first year behind her, utilizing her input we have opted to take a second look at the high school facility and the study that was done a few years ago."
The earlier study, completed in 2002, proposed a $46 million renovation plan. The focus of the plan was to repair buildings based on program needs, providing updated facilities for athletics, science, and the arts, including a new auditorium.
"The 2002 study did not go through a detailed engineering study to see if the infrastructure (i.e. heat, light, power systems) was in good enough working order that would warrant investing that kind of money into improvements," continued Fitzgerald.
"This got us thinking. Lincoln-Sudbury just spent approximately $75 million for a brand new high school and tore down the old building. Wayland is doing the same. Could we justify spending $45 to $50 million on a facility that would possibly need significant additional investment 10 years from now. Do we continue to throw good money after bad?"
Committee member and Carlisle resident David Dockterman, also reached by e-mail, agreed. "I'd say there is consensus we need to do something about the high school facilities very soon. We have many questions and issues to consider to determine how extensive any actions need to be. How far can the previous study, which looked at a renovation of the facilities, take us? How much life is left in the buildings? What kind of state support can we expect? What are our most crucial needs?"
The school committee plans to have the study begin in January, and be completed by June, 2005. "We expect to have all of the systems reviewed and analyzed in the new study, as well as the development of a comparative analysis of what a new building (based upon the current and projected program) would cost versus the cost of the renovation proposal," explained Fitzgerald. "This will allow us to make a rational decision on whether we renovate or rebuild. Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages."
Fitzgerald is in his third year as a member of the regional school committee. "The buildings have not changed much since I was a student there in the late 1960s. We did a patchwork approach to dealing with decaying walls in the 1990s. It is time to take a comprehensive approach to the facility needs of our high school program." He added, "I am excited about this study."
High school parent Debbie Dawson agrees. "At the Parent Open House, I was struck by the enormous contrast between the quality of the teachers and the programs at CCHS and the poor physical condition of the building. Something has to be done to address this because it will just become a greater and greater problem as the building continues to deteriorate."
"The building is soon to be 50 years old, in need of significant renovations, and no longer meets the needs of a 21st-century high school student or program," said Fitzgerald.
© 2004 The