Friday, April 22, 2005
Feasibility Group defines choices for expanding CCHS
The CCHS Feasibility Study Group met last week to frame the choices for expanding the high school: (1) renovate the existing buildings, (2) renovate the old and add new space, or (3) build a brand new Concord-Carlisle High School.
Just renovating the high school "is not really an option" said committee member Karen Sabatino. Each department needs one to three more classrooms and more teacher space. Phil Poinelli of SMMA Consultants, the firm hired to prepare the feasibility study, said, "The utilitization rate [number of rooms being used at one time in the school] should be 80-85% for a smoothly running school."
CCHS Principal Art Dulong said, "We're running well over 90% utilization. Scheduling courses is difficult. There are not enough classrooms to schedule all the courses...To schedule science took a great deal of time and effort to do." The last bit of scheduling is done by hand, he said, and is determined by availability of rooms. Some classes are not scheduled due to the lack of classroom space. Seven students were eliminated from the AP (Advanced Placement) Program because there wasn't enough space to add another class. Additions are needed, not just renovations.
Renovation + addition
The second option is to renovate and add on to the school. This option addresses the need for new science rooms, a new auditorium, a new gym, and more classroom and teacher space.
SMMA Consultant Alex Pitkin suggested eliminating the L-wing and replacing it with a new auditorium. This would make way for a front door that opened up to the administrative offices. It is considered a security shortcoming that visitors walk into the present building without seeing the office nor are they seen by office personnel.
A three- or four-court gym would be added on the west side of the building, to the right of the cafeteria. The old gyms could be used for classroom space during the renovation.
Pitkin also suggested that a second story could be added above administrative offices and the science wing. This would allow for twelve more classrooms and teacher space. Departments would get shifted around. A new library could possibly be accommodated above the administrative offices.
The architects from SMMA were asked if the building could support a second floor. Poinelli responded, "Foundations are typically too small, the bracing is not there and columns are not usually strong enough to add a second story. I never saw a case were you could add a second story to an originally one-story building." This would have to be addressed.
The H-wing, home of the English and History departments, was built in the 1960s, and it is in relatively good shape. The I-wing, built in the 1970s, could be removed and rebuilt. It has lower ceilings, narrower corridors and the lightning is not as good.
The present library has many issues. It has ramps that take up much space and do not meet code. Its three levels make it difficult to supervise. It's not an efficient use of space. It's not clear yet whether a new space will be allotted for a library or whether the current space will be renovated for a better library.
The schedule of renovations is also a factor. Poinelli said, "Renovations will clearly take longer than new construction." He suggested creating the new spaces and then renovating the old spaces. Fifteen modular classrooms would have to be rented.
Poinelli pushed for decisions. Judy Terry, a Concord Selectwoman on the committee said, "The town is aware that we need a new gym, library, auditorium and new science facilities." There was more talk about a field house, which is the size of four full gyms and an indoor track. Dulong commented, "People would be short-sighted not to put it in." Sabatino agreed, "There would be lots of support for it. CCYB and CCYS (Youth Baseball and Soccer) always need more space." Tim Hult, chair of the Carlisle Board of Selectmen, said that he is very supportive, but when this had been brought up previously, many were concerned that a field house is just too much.
In the end, the Feasibility Study Committee agreed that a renovation and addition project would include a new auditorium, new science classrooms, a new gym with an option to be a field house and either a new or renovated library.
New school building
Peter Lukacic, a landscape architect and planner at SMMA, presented four possible locations for a new school. The first location was the most obvious, put the new school on the current playing fields. This option would include parking space all around the building. A new football field would be placed where the old gym is now. Fields would be placed where the present building stands.
The next two proposed locations were on different sections of the hillside behind the school. These two sites would be visible from Route 2. Although buildings on these sites could be architecturally lovely, costs could be very high.
The fourth proposal was close to the parking lot on the east side of the building near the intersection of Thoreau and Walden Streets. This choice would need a realignment of the roads and it is also close to a neighborhood.
More information will be gathered about these four sites before deciding which is the best location for a new school. The design of a new school building was not addressed.
There are advantages to new construction. "There is little or no interruption for the students," said SMMA consultant Joel Seeley, and all of the committee's goals would be attained.
© 2005 The