The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 6, 2006


The future use is uncertain for the old Highland Building (center), located close to the Robbins Building on the Carlisle School campus. (Photo by Betsy Fell)

New two-story school building proposed
Modulars possible for immediate needs

Architects met with the School Building Committee again in late December, adding more details to conceptual drawings for the school master plan.

In the Option A plans currently preferred by the committee, the single-story Wilkins Building built in 1963 would be replaced by a new two-story building to add more space for classrooms. The first floor would contain the early grades up to grade two, and the second story would hold middle school classes from grades six to eight. The present Wilkins Building cannot structurally support a second story and would need to be demolished, said Building Committee Chair Christy Barbee, according to the Existing Conditions Report just completed by HMFH architects.

All building plans assume the 50-year old Spalding Building that holds grades kindergarten and one and the old Highland Building, now used as artists' studios, will be removed from the school campus. The Building Committee believes Spalding is at the end of its useful life and recommends demolishing it rather than spending significant funds renovating it. The architects estimate that the cost of renovating Highland for school use, including bringing it up to all current codes for school buildings, would be at least $2.5 million. At this time the committee has no plans to spend funds on the renovation or preservaton of the Highland Building.

The conceptual plans will be shown to Selectmen, parent groups, and others in the community in meetings planned for January. Plans assume the present population of 800 students. The study allows the school to address the need for more space for current programs, the condition of some of its older buildings, and to prepare for any enrollment increase in the future. "We have to think ten years out" in planning for space, said Superintendent Marie Doyle. The recent NESDEC enrollment showed the Carlisle School population could drop over the next five to ten years based on the current birth rate and an aging town population. However, the projected drop in the school's enrollment could be offset by any affordable housing projects that are approved and constructed over the next decade.

The committee is also considering the possibility of leasing or purchasing modular classrooms. Doyle estimated that four modulars are needed to add classroom space for the school's current program needs. The committee plans to put a placeholder in the warrant for next spring's town meeting for possible modular classrooms. They asked the architects to recommend which programs would best fit in the modulars, and where to site the units on the crowded hilltop campus.

The school will also need additional modular units to house students if a building construction project occurs, said member Wendell Sykes. There are two types of modulars, according to Sykes who researched the units for the building committee earlier this year. More temporary units have a projected limited life span of about five to seven years and cost roughly $100,000, while high-quality units cost roughly $200,000 and are equivalent to regular school classrooms in durability and quality. The committee plans to carefully consider the most cost-effective solution for the school. "It's a complicated answer," said Superintendent Marie Doyle as the committee weighs if, when, and how to add modular classrooms.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito