The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 23, 2009

Carlisle School Building Committee meets with state aid officials

Members of the Carlisle School Building Committee (SBC) have met twice recently with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to iron out details of the plan to replace the Spalding Building and renovate other parts of the campus. The MSBA held a long meeting with the SBC downtown and in addition came to visit the school last week, prior to the SBC meeting on October 15. “Both meetings were very productive,” according to Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle. She thought MSBA members were very attentive. During the discussion, the MSBA said they wanted to see more dedicated space for special education and a little less classroom space.

The proposed choral room was discussed. The plan is for three current classrooms to become a 2,400-square-foot choral room. The MSBA questioned whether a 1,600-square-foot room would work. Doyle explained that Carlisle has a large choral program with 100 students and the room needs to accommodate risers and a piano.

SBC member Robert Wiggins said, “They [the MSBA] were sympathetic, but they said they have to be accountable to the public.” Doyle said the MSBA will tell the SBC what they think is appropriate square footage. Then the committee can respond. “We did our best showing and explaining.”

The MSBA is continuing to review the educational specifications and the SBC expects a letter with their intentions this week.

New entrance concerns

SBC Chair Lee Storrs asked if there were any concerns raised during the October 5 Town Meeting presentation, and much of the ensuing discussion focused on the proposed new school entrance by the cafeteria. In the new plan, the cafeteria will be widened. An indoor corridor on the edge of the cafeteria will allow students to stay inside while traveling between their classrooms and the gym or music room. The concern is that the courtyard formed between the new wing and the extended cafeteria is long and narrow. It will not get direct sun in December and January and Facilities Manager David Flannery is particularly concerned about keeping the area clear of ice and snow. There is no easy way to plow in that area. HMFH Architect Laura Wernick said they could make that entrance more inviting.

Several solutions were debated. If a roof is put over the whole length of this space, the courtyard will be dark. Further the cafeteria and classrooms in the new wing on that side of the building will not have natural light or fresh air if they open the windows. Even if the roof material is translucent, there will be less light on that side of the new wing. Another idea was to partially cover the courtyard with an overhang, but snow and ice would still be an issue.

Another large concern is that the MSBA will probably not pay to cover that area. This was voiced by Wernick. In the renovation plan, the amount of space for hallways is already over the limits set by the MSBA. Owners Project Manager Sean Fennell of Daedalus Projects Incorporated said it would be hard to justify increasing that square footage to cover the courtyard.

One reason driving the decision to put the new wing in its present location was to keep the Spalding building open during construction of the new wing. Otherwise, the classes in Spalding have to be relocated in trailers or other areas for the year and a half that construction is slated to take, which would add to the cost of the project. SBC member Robert Wiggins questioned whether keeping Spalding open was the right decision.

Also, the lobby of the new wing was placed to become “the knuckle,” a pivotal point between the new wing, the Wilkins building and the Corey Building. There is also an elevation change between Wilkins and Corey which the renovation plan took into account. More discussion centered around moving the new wing so it would be closer to the Robbins building, with no clear solution. The architects will go back and consider alternatives for the concerns that were discussed.

Bus parking area

HMFH Associate Arthur Duffy showed a plan to change the upper parking lot from the bus drop-off and pick-up area to an additional car parking lot. This would relieve some of the parking load on the main lot and the current parking area near Spalding. His plan showed that three buses could pull up to the curb, gather or release students and then the next three buses could drive up to the curb.

There was some opposition to this plan. Superintendent Marie Doyle explained that now, six buses are needed to transport students, but when enrollment was higher, eight buses were used. According to projections, student enrollment will rise again in the future. It was questioned whether that many buses would have time to queue up and take turns at the curb. Also, older students use that parking area during recess to play football. Doyle said she wanted the older children separated from the younger kids during recess.

Duffy then spoke about the changes to the parking area on School Street. Currently, there are 12 designated spots by the Spalding building. In addition, teachers park along the U-shaped driveway and down School Street. This is an advantage to those working in the Spalding and Robbins buildings. The new design for this area will have 15 spots, which will include designated spots for the administration, visitors and handicapped individuals. It was unclear how much space would be available for undesignated spots for faculty.

Engineering room

Storrs recommended the School Technology Committee and the SBC get together to make some decisions about the uses and equipment needs for a proposed engineering room. Doyle suggested that people go to see other engineering rooms in the Newton and/or Lowell schools.

Other business

The SBC voted to allow a few members on the SBC to spend up to $5,000 during the schematic design phase without a vote of the full committee. Owners Project Manager Sean Fennell said it would be rare to have this amendment come into play.

Timeline

The SBC will give a short presentation to the Board of Selectmen on November 10. The SBC expects to give a presentation to the community on November 19 in the school auditorium. A report is due to MSBA on December 5, and the SBC expects to hear back from them in mid-January. ∆


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