The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 19, 2010

CCHS Master Plan architect reviews design, fields questions

How was the proposed renovation plan for the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS) developed? How will the school change and how much will it cost? On November 8, in the Corey Cafeteria, Office of Michael Rosenfeld (OMR) principal Jeanne Roberts gave an overview of the CCHS Master Plan that was completed last March and answered questions concerning the renovation/construction project. The review was an effort to keep residents of Carlisle informed and to provide answers about the activities of the CCHS Building Committee.

The review covered the elements of the Master Plan, community values, goals, academic needs and shortcomings of the current building. Roberts walked the audience through options and explained how the CCHS Facilities Master Plan Committee (FMPC) had come up with a conceptual plan for a renovated high school and how it could be constructed in phases. She presented a budget comparison between new construction and renovated space.

In addition, Roberts talked about the design of a new athletic center. The proposed field house includes a 180-meter track and three basketball courts. One of these would be a “performance” court with a wooden floor. The field house is estimated to cost $13.5 million. Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) will not fund athletic centers so outside funding is being sought.

The CCHS master plan calls for reusing 55,000 square feet and building 234,000 square feet of new space, for a total of 289,000 square feet. The plan has 35,800 square feet more than the MSBA has estimated would be required for a projected future enrollment of 1,225. That difference is about the same square footage as is in the athletic center.

One of the goals of the project is sustainability. Given that the design has many “green” features, the project may be eligible for an additional 2% reimbursement through the MSBA. Roberts said they would also look into incorporating LEED-Platinum features. Platinum is the top, most energy-efficient building designation in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system.

There were questions regarding the price tag. The MSBA has stated that it will support a $75 to 85 million project to renovate CCHS. Superintendent Diana Rigby explained that the MSBA has determined that the enrollment guideline for the project is 1,225 students. The MSBA has formulas they use for square footage per student, which is 185 square feet, and a price range for renovated space per square foot. Roberts explained that new construction is estimated to cost $295 per square foot, while renovated space is estimated at $288 per square foot. There is variability in how much of the old building will be saved and how much will be new. So there is a range, $75 to 85 million, for how much the project will cost.

There were several questions about how decisions are made about what goes into the building. Former FinCom member Thornton Ash asked how building decisions were negotiated. “What is the process?” Roberts explained that the CCHS Building Committee (CCBC) will work with the architect and MSBA.

Rigby added that the committee is made up of a variety of people: faculty members, administration members, Selectmen, architects, people with backgrounds in construction, school committee members and community members-at-large, each representing different constituencies of the two communities. They will bring the concerns of those constituencies to the table. Carlisle residents on the CCBC are Stan Durlacher, Tim Hult, Co-chair Karla Johnson, Regional School Committee Chair Louis Salemy and Selectman Bill Tice.

Ash voiced concerns about affordability. Roberts said, “We are not building a gold tower.” Both towns have to approve the project for it to move forward. Salemy added, “MSBA are the cost police.”

Currently, the high school has a radio station, CCTV, a recording studio and classrooms for Concord-Carlisle Adult Education use. Rigby said that MSBA doesn’t support space for these, but said, “I can’t see the community not supporting these.”

Another question concerned community use of the athletic center, specifically, if seniors could use the track for walking. Rigby said athletic centers are often used as community centers.

There were questions about keeping the location of the high school. RSC member Louis Salemy explained that the best site for the high school is in its current location. “This was determined by the Master Plan.” Roberts said that the MSBA caps what it will reimburse for site work at 8% of the total budget. Durlacher added that site work can really increase the cost of a school. Michael Fitzgerald, who had been a chair of the CCHS Facilities Master Plan Committee, explained that the CCHS Facilities Master Plan process had started a year and a half ago without any dialogue with the MSBA. “We wanted to engage the MSBA,” noting that the “new school route” did not accomplish that goal.

One woman asked if she could get a tour of the current high school. There will be tours of the CCHS. See for details. ∆

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