The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) announced last week that it has moved Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS) from the “repair” category to the Feasibility Study phase and is willing to support a $75-$85 million project to renovate CCHS. This does not include funding for the athletic center proposed in the CCHS Facilities Master Plan completed in March. Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee Chair Louis Salemy gave a summary of the Master Plan and an update on progress with the MSBA when he spoke to the Board of Selectmen on October 12.
Salemy later explained, “The minimum reimbursement rate is 31% – that is the state law. You move higher based on a number of factors. For CCHS, we are hoping to move higher because we plan on designing a facility that has a strong green design. We will not know the actual reimbursement rate until we get approval of the schematic design, which is not expected until September, 2011.”
“The overreaching goal of the building committee is to design a facility that is sustainable,” said Salemy. He then explained three aspects that define sustainability. “The design has to last for 75 years.” Secondly, the project will re-use and re-purpose space wherever possible. Salemy said the MSBA complimented them on maximizing the amount of space that could be saved. Lastly, the design will be “green” and will support the educational mission at CCHS. “It will use environmentally friendly materials and will be efficient to operate and maintain.”
Salemy pointed out that Concord’s new Willard Elementary School is 50% larger than the old school, yet it has been saving 35% in its energy usage. “At the high school, a more efficient design should be able to significantly lower our operation costs, which will reduce the future tax bill to both towns.” Also, the MSBA reimburses at a higher percentage for “green” buildings. Salemy stressed that a building that is sustainable also addresses the issue of affordability. He added that all these goals were in line with the values of the town.
Salemy explained how the MSBA came up with their figures for the scope of the project. “The state has set a formula for square footage per student.” The MSBA has determined that the enrollment guideline for the project is 1,225, which is 25 students less than the current enrollment at the high school. “The state has seen thousands of school designs and has been involved with hundreds of school projects. It has a vast database of costs and can ascertain with relative accuracy what it will cost to renovate a school…They know what construction costs are.”
“Residents of Carlisle should take a great deal of comfort in the fact that the MSBA is our partner. They are in essence the cost police, and will not approve any project that does not adhere to their building criteria,” said Salemy. He added that town boards would not be behind this project without MSBA involvement. “The MSBA’s support, by definition, assures affordability because it dramatically lowers the cost of the project to taxpayers and assures that any project that is designed follows their protocol.”
The CCHS School Building Committee is now putting out a Request For Services (RFS) for an Owner’s Project Manager (OPM). Salemy laid out a timeline. He expects an OPM to be hired in the next two months. The goal is to have a project to present to the MSBA in September, 2011. With their approval, the two towns will have 120 days to vote funds for schematic design and construction. Salemy expects this vote in November, 2011. The finished project may be ready three years after that. Salemy stressed, “Phasing is challenging for this project” since students will be using the school as it is renovated and rebuilt.
At the 2009 Town Meetings, Concord and Carlisle approved a $750,000 warrant article for CCHS. A third of this, roughly $250,000, was used for the CCHS Facilities Master Plan Study. Salemy commented that gaining partnership with the MSBA on a roughly $80 million project, “generated a very high return on our investment.” ∆