The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 3, 2009

CCHS takes another look at renovation or replacement

For over ten years the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) has considered major renovation or replacement of the high school buildings. A historical look at the last ten years shows the economy has consistently interrupted plans for renovations. This spring, voters in both towns will be asked to fund a debt exclusion of $750,000 for CCHS repairs, including $250,000 earmarked for a new school building feasibility study.

Due to the uncertainty of obtaining matching funds from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), the study will assume full financial support must come from Concord and Carlisle, though the RSC hopes to advance on the MSBA’s waiting list. Carlisle’s portion of the debt exclusion will be about $225,000.

Past efforts to upgrade the high school have included:

1960 - CCHS constructed.

1965, 1975, 1993 - New buildings added, and renovations completed.

1995 - 2000 - Plans formulated for additional renovations.

2001 - Renovations delayed due to the economy. A building committee was formed.

2002 - The building committee, working with Cambridge-based HMFH Architects, Inc., proposed a $45 million renovation for the high school. The RSC discussed a request for $4.1 million in design funds. The project was to be done in six stages, from October 2004 to January 2007. The major changes included:

• new Science building to replace “S” building;

• renovate “L” (Language Arts) building;

• add small meeting rooms to the library;

• new cafeteria and kitchen to replace the courtyard;

• new auditorium to replace current cafeteria;

• renovate Social Studies “H” building;

• build new field house, with parking beneath, next to new auditorium;

• renovate upper and lower gym to allow weight rooms, aerobics rooms, and office space.

The RSC modified the proposal to a two-phase plan in response to cost concerns. The two phases would take four years longer to complete and cost approximately $3 million more than the original $45 million estimate. The RSC requested a Town Meeting Warrant Article for $2.3 million to fund the design services, consultants, bids, and any other related costs associated with first phase of a CCHS renovation and expansion project.

2003 - Carlisle Selectmen raised questions about the cost of the project and the RSC was told that only one phase of the two-phase project may be possible. The Carlisle Selectmen formally created a committee to study the renovation needs. In March the RSC withdrew its request for design funds.

At this time the state school building grant program stopped accepting new applications.

2004 - RSC began a new study of CCHS buildings and facilities.

2005 - A CCHS Feasibility Study Committee formed to explore options for renovation. The group, along with architects from Symmes Maini & McKee Associates (SMMA) of Cambridge, framed the choices: renovate the existing buildings; renovate the old and add new space; or build a brand new high school. The group 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 a new or renovated library.

SMMA provided cost estimates: renovation only would cost approximately $42 million; renovation and new construction would cost between $74 and $80 million.

The CCHS Feasibility Study Committee recommended to the RSC that a new high school facility should be built. The RSC received estimates of $90 million for new construction and $82 million for a renovation and addition.

2006 - Due to a declining economy, the RSC decided to delay considering plans for renovating or replacing the high school buildings, but drafted plans to request funds for a new high school once the state’s moratorium on new school building grants ended.

2007 – The moratorium ended and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) was created.

2008 - New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) called for improved school facilities at CCHS as part of the periodic accreditation review.

CCHS submitted a Statement of Interest to the MSBA for the school building project. CCHS was one of 38 schools whose building project aid applications have been placed in the “hold” category by the MSBA.

2009 – RSC member Jerry Wedge proposed to reactivate a school building committee with representation from the Concord and Carlisle Selectmen, both school committees, school administrators and teachers, special education representatives, students and parents. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito