The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 9, 2010

CCHS Master Plan completed

The new master plan for the high school facility is finished and will be presented to the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC) at their meeting on April 13. The plan documents the condition of the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS) and the educational requirements, and includes a conceptual design for a proposed renovation. The proposed high school renovation will be discussed at a public forum on Thursday, April 15, at 7 p.m. in the Clark Room at Town Hall.

At its final meeting on March 24, the Facilities Master Plan Committee voted to accept the report prepared by the architectural firm the Office of Michael Rosenfeld (OMR). Prior to the vote, committee Chair Michael Fitzgerald and Michael Rosenfeld gave an overview of the committee’s goals, the contents of the master plan and a timeline and cost for the proposed construction.

A look at preliminary estimates

The estimated cost is $108 million for renovation. (The estimated cost for all-new construction is $111 million.) Fitzgerald talked about renovation costs and walked the listeners through the calculations. The field house or athletic center has an estimated cost of $13.5 million, which would not be covered by reimbursement from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). By subtracting the cost of the athletic center from $108 million, the possible reimbursable total is $94.5 million. If the MSBA reimbursed 35% of this, or $33.1 million, the cost to the two towns would be $61.3 million. Add the athletic center back in and the estimated total cost to taxpayers would be $74.9 million.

Using the enrollment ratio based on New England School Development Council projections for fiscal year 2013, Carlisle’s share would be 28%, or about $21 million.

Tax impact

The $13 million debt for the Carlisle School building project is estimated to add a maximum of roughly $600 to the yearly tax bill for the median home, tapering off over the 25-year life of the bond. If Carlisle’s debt for a CCHS renovation is $21 million, the impact on the average tax bill would be roughly another $970 per year. However, several Carlisle town officials later noted that the final CCHS renovation plan that evolves over the coming months may be smaller and less expensive.

Master planning process

Fitzgerald summarized the committee’s accomplishments. At the Concord and Carlisle Town Meetings last spring, $250,000 had been voted for a master plan to remedy the facility issues at CCHS. The objective was to provide the communities with options for addressing these needs. Fitzgerald noted that the MSBA has recently expressed interest in supporting a building project.

Fitzgerald reiterated that the way to move forward was to pass the $1.3 million Warrant Article for a feasibility study and design schematics. The request is on the Warrant for Carlisle’s Annual Town Meeting on Monday, May 10. Carlisle’s portion of the cost is roughly 30% or $390,000.

If the Warrant Article passes in both towns, Fitzgerald explained that the next step would be to hire an Owner’s Project Manager and a project designer to investigate possible options and define a detailed scope of the proposed project. The feasibility study would include a budget cost estimate, a projected cash flow, permitting requirements, the proposed project design and construction schedule and sustainable design goals.

Audience questions

Q: What will the state say when they see essentially no difference in the cost of a renovated rather than newly constructed school?

A: Michael Fitzgerald: “I don’t know what their response will be.” He added the state has put the school on a track for a repair project and the regional school district will be working with them to move from a repair project to a renovation project.

Q: Where will students be housed when the H-building is taken down?

A: Rosenfeld explained that the I-, S- and L-buildings will still be functioning when the H-building is taken down. By that time, the new athletic center, cafeteria and expanded A-building will be completed. Classes will be moved into the new area of the A-building which will later be used for art and into the rooms slated for aerobics and weight training in the athletic area. The old cafeteria will have been renovated for student services. Some administrative space may be used as temporary “swing” space as well.

Q: So much of the school will be new. What are you reusing?

A: Rosenfeld said that the spirit of sustainability is to see what can be reused. He said the exterior walls of the cafeteria and probably the floor will not be saved, but something will. More will be saved in the A-building. The walls of the lower gym are considered poor in terms of energy efficiency. However, these walls will become inside walls, so “they become good walls,” said Rosenfeld. “We are not saving a lot, but we are saving something. In an approach like this, the benefits, in my view, are conserving land, not building on new land.” He said that is one of the tenets of sustainability.

Q: Will there be any savings in operational costs?

A: Deputy Superintendent John Flaherty said that the school operational costs will drop with each newly completed phase of construction. The new design will incorporate the energy-efficient MA-CHPS guidelines.

When reached after the meeting Flaherty stated, “The new high-performance Willard School [in Concord] is roughly 50% larger than the old Willard School, and is experiencing significantly lower energy costs than the old Willard despite the increase in size.”

The MSBA has a program called MA-CHPS, to encourage the design and construction of schools known as “high performance green schools” to ease the energy, water, materials and financial burden of building education facilities. It is based on LEED guidelines (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.) To see the MA-CHPS Green School Guidelines, go online to: www.massschoolbuildings.org/about_ektid64.aspx.

Q: With a southern exposure, what is your cooling strategy?

A: Fitzgerald said that the building will be fully air-conditioned.

Q: This renovated school has wonderful characteristics. But the 2005 Feasibility Study concluded that we should build a new school. With the two costs, [renovated and new] being so close, how do you justify doing a renovation instead of building a new school?

A: Fitzgerald answered, “It’s purely a financial decision, based on what the MSBA has told us about whether they will reimburse us for a new school. They’ve pretty much told us they will not.”

Q: Mark Howell, chair of Concord’s Finance Committee, commented that there were advantages to keeping the high school on the same site, recalling how much controversy there was over cutting down trees for the athletic fields. He added there is a reduction in the waste component in doing a renovation rather than building new. He asked whether the MSBA would look at this plan and say “time out,” this is a new school. Is there a chance that the outcome of the feasibility study might lead to a different answer, something that is substantially less than that?

A: Fitzgerald said that as the MSBA gets involved at a greater level during the feasibility study there may be changes. “The final product may not end up looking like the approach we are recommending in the master plan. It will all be driven by the reimbursement level, the funding from the MSBA.”

Q: Does that feedback come before the [this spring’s] Town Meeting vote?

A: Fitzgerald said, “No.” He explained that once the two towns vote for the funding for the feasibility study, that is when the MSBA will become fully engaged and begin working more closely on the project. A building committee will be established and they will work with the MSBA and an architecture firm to move the project forward.

Q: The OMR is working on several schools with the MSBA, for example, the Longmeadow school. How has your original schedule [timeline of construction] been held to or impaired by working with the MSBA?

A: Rosenfeld said these projects were on track with their original schedule.

Additional information

The Facilities Master Plan and supporting documentation is available at: www.cchsmasterplan.org. For further information, see “High School Renovations May Cost $108 Million,” Mosquito, March 19. In addition, at www.carlislemosquito.org, go to “Archives” and search for “CCHS Master Plan” for articles with details on each stage of the committee’s progress. ∆


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