The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 16, 2010

CCHS Master Plan approved

The Regional School Committee (RSC) unanimously approved the Facilities Master Plan for Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS). Before the vote, the committee discussed aspects of the plan and the issue of affordability.

CCHS Facilities Master Plan Committee Chair Michael Fitzgerald gave an overview of the approach that was taken, the scope and goals of the committee and the analysis of the condition of the existing space, the needs of the educational program and the deficiencies of the facility. He compared the cost of renovation to new construction and gave a timeline for the feasibility study, schematic design and construction if the Warrant Article for $1.3 million passes at the Concord and Carlisle Town Meetings in a few weeks.

Architects at the Office of Michael Rosenfeld (OMR) had come up with six concepts. After considering each, the Master Plan Committee asked OMR to hone in one a particular concept which includes a major addition and minor renovation. The result would be a more compact, energy efficient, secure school facility which would solve the educational program needs.

Existing site favored

Fitzgerald and RSC members Louis Salemy and Pam Gannon commented on the fact that the optimal placement for a high school is where it is currently. Gannon pointed out that many trees would have to be cut down if a new school was built on another section of the school land. Salemy liked the optimization for solar exposure.

Fitzgerald pointed out that renovating an existing building, rather than building on a new site, would interfere with students’ lives for several years. “A significant amount of phasing will have to be done with this approach.”

Green design

Several members noted the many “green” features in the design. The conceptual plan estimates 38 MA-CHPS (Massachusetts Collaborative for High Performance Schools) points, which would make the project eligible for an additional 2% reimbursement through the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). It also estimates 52 points with another possible 41 points in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification process, for a Gold Certification or better.

Design might change

Fitzgerald reiterated that the Master Plan “is an approach” to solve the high school’s deficiencies. He said they were cognizant of the educational specifications and a good approach was established. “Other approaches may fall out.” RSC member Peter Fischelis added that the Master Plan is a guiding document, “Nothing is set in concrete at this point.”

Salemy said, “It’s going to be a tough vote…There is recognition that something must be done,” but there is an issue of affordability. “There is a need to bring both towns together.” Salemy suggested that a few members of the Boards of Selectmen, Finance Committees, the regional school district administration and the RSC “get together over the summer to work on getting some sort of agreement on affordability, and balance that with the needs of students…I think we need to have both towns sitting down together early on in the process.”

Wedge agreed. “We need to build consensus for this project. We need to have a clear idea of what the state is going to support.” He was not sure they would get any clear signals from the MSBA before the feasibility study was done. It might be later than this summer. Superintendent Diana Rigby urged strengthening communication between committees across the two towns.

RSC member Fabian Fondriest pointed out that there are costly repairs needed in the near future at CCHS. Fitzgerald agreed, saying that if this is delayed, the cost of needed repairs is substantial. Wedge added, “A delay probably takes us out of the running with MSBA.”

To see the final report and supporting documents, go to ∆

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito