Citizens Still Searching for Answers About CCHS Building Project
As officials work toward getting plans for a new CCHS “back on track,” Patch checked in with few citizens still upset over the derailment and “lack of transparency” from around the project.
And, while officials met last month with the Massachusetts School Building Authority regarding the district's progress efforts to get the project back on track and in line for a resumption of state funding, the major mystery still remains: How did this all happen in the first place?
Speaking with members of what has been referred to as a “small, but very vocal” group upset over the mismanagement of the project, there is still resentment from the public towards aspects of the project's current course and not receiving in-depth responses to their concerns.
Among the most vocal of the this minority are Concord residents David Allen, Lissa McKinney and Bill Plummer.
“From the 'outside' [this is a] not-small problem - in fact a quite serious failure of management of the process," said Allen. "As some evidence of this, the architect, OMR, has for some period of time 'worked on its own nickel' - the phrase I had to eke out of [CCHS Building Committee Chair Stan] Durlacher at the 8/22 forum. That is, the architect for some period realized that it had to make up for some of the large error, by not billing for time, in the attempt to correct."
Allen was referring to the escalating cost estimates for the CCHS Building project, a key reason the MSBA suspended its reimbursement payments to the district earlier this summer.
"Though it is difficult to get unambiguous information out of those who have it," Allen said, "The other cause, apparently: though again facts are shrouded by those who actually know, it seems that - after the November vote - teachers in particular were asked for input. This, it seems, led to further ballooning of projected cost.”
Bill Plummer, another resident looking for answers for the inflated project cost, said he, like the MSBA, believes the architect, project manager and the CCHS Building Committee share the blame.
“The excessive cost was inherent in the plans drawn by the architects, and evidently the Building Committee did not provide them adequate supervision for some months," said Plummer. "Most recently, the effort to duck the blame has surfaced in their campaign to pretend that 'a small number of vocal opponents' are going to delay building the nice new school. That is not true. The MSBA explained exactly why they stopped the funding, and it was because of management errors of the district. Community inputs were not at all involved."
Lissa McKinney, a Concord resident spurred on by plans to raze the bus depot and outsource school transportation, said she's not sure anyone is going to step up and shoulder the blame.
“I doubt all parties would ever agree because there have been so many egos vested in the early work of the Building Committee, and they just don’t want to be perceived as having erred," McKinney said. "No one wants to re-examine what’s best in the financial long-run of the community. Where things are likely to go, and where I think they should have gone to save the community $25 million or more, are two different places.”
Neither CCHS Building Committee Chairman Stan Durlacher nor Superintendent of Schools Diana Rigby responded to requests to comment for this report.