Friday, November 3, 2006
Concord-Carlisle High School copes with overcrowding
Lack of adequate space has long been a concern of administrators at the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS), and the topic was explored again at the Regional School Committee (RSC) meeting on October 24.
Concord-Carlisle Regional School Superintendent Brenda Finn said that enrollment at the high school is now 1,257. "That's a 36% increase" compared with the 926 students enrolled in 1996-1997. She expects to see an additional 20 students next year. (See table at right.)
Students speak out
Students have noticed a space squeeze. RSC student member Hannah Braaten said, "The cafeteria is really crowded." Student RSC member Leigh Davis concurred, "There's no place to sit; it's filled with freshmen and sophomores. The library is really crowded too." She noted that it fills up and the librarians lock the doors and they won't let any more students in for that period. Braaten said she needed a place where she could eat and do homework. Braaten felt there was not enough room in the cafeteria. "You can't get work done in there," Braaten told the RSC. Students are not allowed to eat in the library and students are no longer allowed to sit in the hallways. Principal Art Dulong said they had to stop kids from sitting and eating in the hallways due to fire rules, health rules and problems with food remnants. RSC student member Pami Anderson said, "We need a place where seniors can hang out."
In a report to the Concord and Carlisle Finance Committees, dated October 12, 2006 and written by Finn, Director of Finance and Operations John Flaherty, Director of Special Education Jessica Murphy and Assistant Superintendent Diana Rigby, facility concerns are spelled out. "The high school is in serious need of space — both for classrooms and for offices."
Ideas to increase classroom, office space
Four possible solutions were listed. The first is to purchase or lease at least three portable classrooms, two or more for classroom space and one for office space for the guidance staff, or the clinical staff or the special education staff. The second suggestion is to remodel rooms A7 and A8 to make them the guidance offices, meeting areas or a career center. Rooms A7 and A8 are Home Economics rooms across from the auditorium. These rooms are not typical classrooms. One contains a number of ovens, sinks and cabinets. The third suggestion is to move the Alternative Program from its present location across from the nurses' area to A8 and remodel the current space to office areas for the clinical staff. The clinical staff includes social workers, a special education psychologist, and speech and language staff.
The last suggestion is to remodel the I Building space to be used as classroom space. The I Building is located in the back of the school behind the science wing, and currently houses CCTV, the radio station, the Chorus Room, the PC Lab and the Mac Lab.
Dulong later described the I Building space under consideration: "There is one room there wecurrently use a couple times per day for architecture or sculpture. There are two rooms that are used for storage. There is one space that is formerly a wood shop and is still occasionally used as such, even though it does not have a full complement of tools that it would have had when it was a fully functioning wood shop. These rooms are along the same side as the radio station heading toward the TV station." He added, "None of the existing space in use would be changed from its present function."
Preliminary assessments by the operations staff suggest that the remodeling would be expensive due to heating and ventilation requirements.
Crowding on Carlisle buses
Overcrowded buses were also discussed. Leigh Davis again asked the School Committee tocheck on bus routes and possibly get another bus for Carlisle students. "The two or three buses coming to and from Carlisle are totally full and many of the Concord buses are half empty."
Enrollment increase affects budget
Finn said, "We've had modest increases in course offerings, but it doesn't match the increase in enrollment." She added, "We will need to hire another teacher." An extra section per department will be necessary. The preliminary budget for FY2008 calls for $150,000 for staff increases next year.
© 2006 The