The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 14, 2010

Article 16: CCHS Feasibility Study passes

Net cost to Carlisle is $251,000

Annual Town Meeting on May 10 voted unanimously to approve the sum of $1.3 million for a feasibility study and design schematics for a significant renovation project of the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS). The debt exclusion is contingent upon passage of a ballot question 1 on May 18.

Michael Fitzgerald, chair of the Facilities Master Plan Committee, previous Regional School Committee (RSC) member and 1971 CCHS graduate, gave an overview of the findings of the Master Plan that was completed in March. The master plan committee recommended a combined renovation and addition project with a preliminary estimated cost of $108 million. The cost estimate is expected to change during the planning process, depending on modifications made during the feasibility study and schematic design. If the facility is not renovated, Fitzgerald stated that there would be immediate, significant capital expenditures needed just to keep the building running.

Fitzgerald reviewed the shortcomings of the facility, including infrastructure and safety issues and inadequate space. Many of the electrical, mechanical, heating and plumbing systems are in need of upgrades or replacement. He said the science labs are antiquated and there are times students are turned away from the library because it reaches capacity. He said, “The New England Association of Schools and Colleges put CCHS on a warning status. If we do not address our facility issues, we are in jeopardy of losing our accreditation.”

Under Article 16 the regional school district requested $1.3 million to fund a feasibility study and schematic design, the next step toward a renovation. Fitzgerald explained that Carlisle is responsible for 28% of that request, or $364,000. The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) has already stated that the two towns are eligible for a 31% reimbursement of these funds. With the reimbursement, the cost to Carlisle is decreased to $251,000.

Chairman of the Board of Selectman Tim Hult made three points about the article. First, Hult said, “There is no question there is need for a substantial project for the high school facility…We have been working on this for 20 years.” He acknowledged that he himself had been on two committees and Fitzgerald had been on three committees that had come up with the same conclusion.

Hult’s second point was that it was important to secure state funding and the MSBA was currently engaged with the two towns on this project. He also felt that the economic climate made it a good time to be building. “We believe it is appropriate to move forward with this study at this time.”

Hult’s third point was about affordability. “Although we do not believe a specific amount or range for the final project should be stated as a condition to approve this Article,” we do believe the affordability issue should be discussed early on and should be discussed with members of the Boards of Selectmen and the Finance Committees of both towns and the RSC.

RSC member Louis Salemy reminded the voters that Concord had already passed this Article at their Town Meeting. He concluded, “The RSC is committed to approving a project that is both affordable and meets the needs of the students.”

The BOS, the Finance Committee, Long-Term Capital Requirements Committee and the RSC all supported the Article, which passed without discussion from the floor. ∆

© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito