CCHS Building Committee Update Says Project Moving Toward MSBA Specs
But many residents have unanswered questions.
The Concord-Carlisle High School Building Committee received updates from KV Associates and the Office of Michael Rosenfeld last week, but several questions remain unanswered as the district looks to get back in the MSBA’s good graces.
In late June the Massachusetts School Building Authority notified the Concord-Carlisle Regional School District that it was suspending all grant payments for the high school building project due to changes in the project scope and budget. Last week, Brian Dakin, a project manager with KV, said based on their report to the MSBA on June 26—the same day the district was notified about the suspension—that value engineering had brought the project within $4 million of the approved budget, according to an estimate.
Among the alterations identified by OMR included a slightly smaller athletic building, shifting the school building a little bit south, a slight reduction in building height and reorientation of a few classrooms, among other design tweaks and alterations.
The building committee did not vote last Wednesday night on the refined project scope and budget for the design development (DD) package. Instead, committee Chairman Stan Durlacher explained the intent was for the building and School Committee to vote Aug. 14 on the package that will be sent to the MSBA the following day.
That’s about the same time Superintendent of Schools Diana Rigby said she expects to hear back from the MSBA regarding district’s response to the MSBA. That response was to include steps toward a design that gets back to the project scope and affirmation that a performance gym must remain separate from the school, among other items.
It’s unclear exactly how design development would be impacted by the district’s communication to the MSBA or the MSBA’s response, but officials said they expect MSBA funding is more predicated on the district’s July 26 response than the forthcoming design development package.
As the meeting moved into public comments, one resident ask about the logicistics of taking from the performance gym to pay for the standard, when it’s clear the town(s) must fund the alternative gym separately from the MSBA-reimbursable portions of the school.
However, Durlacher pointed out the comment period was not a question period, and suggested that folks with comments submit them to him prior to meetings. He then offered an email address to which public questions are welcome. It is: email@example.com.
Other questions and comments from the public touched on a growing sense of distrust among the community for the building committee.
“I have a real concern that the schedule here has been foreshortened in a fasion so fundamental constituencies who in the end will would to feel good about this will not have any time at all” to weigh in, said Concord resident David Allen, referring to teachers and residents concerned about transportation issues. “You need the trust of citizens. … Unless [residents] have the opportunity to consider these changes, you’re going to have a very serious credibility problem behind the one you have now.”
Allen was referring to an ongoing issue that cropped up last fall when the district began looking into the possibility of outsourcing busing services as the proposed CCHS building project could claim the land that had been used for the district’s in-house Transportation Department.
Bus drivers and residents almost immediately rose up against the plans and, this past April, Concord’s public school committees voted to keep school transportation services in-house for at least another year. It’s unclear where the department will be located.
However, some residents, including Allen and William Plummer, of Arena Terrace, have said they feel certain these latest plans for a new CCHS completely eliminate the possibility of housing the Transportation Department on the high school site.
Another issue raised by residents at last Wednesday’s meeting was that of liability, and whether the architects might be liable for, as Indian Spring Road resident Stan Loucks put it, “an out of control effort over the past couple of months” that took a concept approved by the MSBA and ended up many millions over budget.