The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 28, 2006


Carlisle School building costs pegged at $57 to $66 million

With gasoline near $3 a gallon, and a new Carlisle home selling for around $1.5 million, the price tag for the Carlisle School's proposed building project should hardly come as a surprise. One option for constructing a new three-story building next to the Corey Building is estimated to cost $65.8 million. A second option for a smaller building connecting the Wilkins and Corey Buildings, and extensive renovations to the school's forty-plus-year-old buildings, is estimated to cost $57.1 million.

Architects delivered the completed Master Plan to the school this week, including the total project costs. The building project, if approved by voters in the future, is designed to be implemented in two phases with the first phase targeted to start in 2008. A second construction phase to start in 2014, again with voter approval, would be complete ten years from now.

Spalding Building to be removed

All plans specify that the 50 year-old Spalding Building be demolished as it is considered to be in the worst condition of the buildings on campus. In the first phase of both plans a new building addition is constructed, Spalding is demolished, and limited renovations are made to other school buildings. The first phase project costs are similar in both plans: Option 1 is projected to cost $26.3 million in Phase 1, while Option 2 is projected at $28 million.

A third option listed in the report, for an entirely new school to be built at an "unspecified" town site, is projected at $64 million. The School Building Committee chose to include the option, though it did not emphasize building away from the current school campus during the year-long study. A previous building study looked at building a new school on the Banta-Davis town land off of Bedford Road.

Even if no building project moves forward, the school still needs to renovate and make equipment repairs to its existing facilities. The Master Plan projects the school will need to spend $32 million in renovations over the next ten years just to maintain its facilities. Maintenance includes bringing the buildings up to current codes, updating heating facilities, and other major capital expenses.

Christy Barbee, Chair of the School Building Committee, plans to give a brief informational overview of the proposed project at Town Meeting. After the SBC receives input from town boards and the community at future meetings, the group will determine which plan to put before voters. The building committee has not made a decision yet, but it is likely the school will seek design funds for the first phase of the building plan at a town meeting this fall.

Though enrollment projections show level or decreasing school enrollments over the next few years, based on the NESDEC enrollment study completed as part of the Master Plan, the school emphasizes it still needs to renovate or replace some of its aging buildings. The plan also looked at ways to improve facilities the school now considers deficient including elementary art and music, foreign languages, science labs, and special education spaces.

HMFH architect Lori Cowles highlighted the aging buildings in the plan summary. "Overall the campus and its buildings have been well-maintained by dedicated staff and faculty, but this does not deter the fact that three of the main classroom buildings, Spalding, Wilkins and Robbins, are over forty years old. The facilities (in the ten years of the master plan projections) will be outdated and worn, both in their physical condition (finishes and systems) and in their ability to meet the educational needs of the 21st century."

The school has decided not to seek funds for modular classrooms at this time, hoping to put project dollars into a building project instead. Voters approved $50,000 for the comprehensive school master plan study at the 2005 Town Meeting.

The master plan, designed in phases, is not a single solution to a single problem, says Steve Moore, business manager for the school. "It allows the town to take into account the changing needs of the school, and the ability of the town to pay for things."

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito