The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 4, 2005


Too little space, too many doors, not secure and not to code: Feasibility Study Committee views CCHS building deficiencies

The Feasibility Study Committee walked through Concord-Carlisle High School evaluating the current condition of the building, noting that every large space has limitations and deficiencies. The science classrooms, seemingly untouched for 40 years, are lacking safety features and other facilities which constrains what experiments can be done; there is not a ramp in the school that meets the accessibility code; the office spaces for teachers, counselors and special educators are incredibly cramped. Of additional concern, there are far too many doors in the cluster of buildings, making security very difficult.

Chuck Brown, CCHS choral director and a member of the Feasibility Study Committee, conducted the February 15 tour, accompanied by CCHS Principal Art Dulong and several representatives of SMMA, the architectural firm chosen to do the feasibility study.

Auditorium too small

The auditorium is acoustically dismal. Band members on one side of the stage cannot hear those playing on the other side. The lighting system is the original. The space above the stage is too shallow and the stage itself is not deep enough. There is not enough storage space. Brown stated that he uses storage space in every other wing of the high school. Another limitation is the lack of seating. There are 580 seats in the auditorium but that number doesn't seat half of the student population which is currently 1,242 and growing. The ramps in the auditorium do not meet code; there should be five-foot landings near the entrances before the ramp begins.

Cafeteria too drafty

The cafeteria still has single glaze windows on one large wall with poor insulating material below them. There is a large ventilator system on the ceiling which is never used because it is so noisy. The cafeteria is already a very noisy space, with the ceiling being the only sound-absorbing surface.

Gym has multiple problems

The upper gym has pull-out bleachers. These are a safety hazard as they no longer lock into position, bolts loosen over time and there are gaps between sections. A large dividing door could cut the gym into two spaces if it were still movable. By today's standards, the gym itself is too small by 3,000 to 4,000 square feet. The staircase down to the lower gym does not meet code due to its railings.

The locker rooms are dark and rather dingy. They have seen a lot of wear. The old lockers are tiny and some are banged up. New lockers are expected this spring. The floor is weathered. A large section of both the boys' and girls' locker rooms is devoted to communal showers which have not been used in years. Theft is frequent in these locker rooms as the lockers are so small that students cannot fit most of their stuff into them. Also, the office is set back from the locker room so adults have difficulty seeing what is going on there.

Library has wasted space

The library is a sweeping space with a number of ramps. None of the ramps meet the accessibility code. Also, there is much wasted space and the room is "hard to control" from a supervisor's point of view. Some of the gym teachers' offices and computers are tucked away in a small corner of the library.

Office space inadequate

The office space for special education (SPED) teachers and guidance counselors is woefully inadequate. When the space was designed in the 1960s, only 50% of the student body headed to college. With more than 95% of the student body now going to college, there is a greater need for counseling. Also, SPED has exploded in that time.

On the tour, only the social studies department offices were viewed. Imagine a room so stuffed with desks that it seems impossible to get to those farthest from the door. Tiny aisles weave a path through the crammed room.

Science needs safety equipment

Last on the tour were several science classrooms. The hookups for Bunsen burners were located around the room, but without an emergency gas shutoff. Gas comes into the classroom from several different pipes. In an emergency, there is no way to shut off all the gas coming into a classroom at once. There is also a great need for more fume hoods.

There was not much space for experiments. In the physics room, computers were hooked up to electrical outlets in the ceiling. More storage space is needed for the science labs.

Safety issues

A number of safety deficiencies were noted. There are countless doors between buildings, which are bottlenecks. Also, there is no way to keep track of who comes and goes, nor is there a way to lock all the doors quickly. This is a substantial security problem. In addition, the main office is not located directly at the main entrance. It is down the hall. This is not helpful for visitors and is a security issue.

Besides ramps, there are many toilets, doors, stairs and handrails that do not meet code.

Patchwork systems

SMMA representatives pointed out some patchwork systems that need upgrading. The fire alarm system consists of an older zonal system and a newer addressable system. Only the gym, the boiler room and the H wing have sprinklers. The corridors and administrative offices have updated lighting, but lighting in classrooms could be improved. There is an old intercom speaker system between the office and the classrooms, but no mechanism for communication between the office and a specific classroom.

The power distribution system is about 35 years old, with a life expectancy of about 50 years. As time goes on, it will be harder to find replacement parts for the power panel boards, circuit breakers and emergency generators.

The domestic water systems need upgrading, as the copper piping is reaching the limit of its life expectancy.

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito