The Concord-Carlisle School Committee and the Transportation Advisory Committee each met on Tuesday, July 17, with a focus the school bus situation.
In a quick, one-hour meeting the School Committee voted unanimously to solicit for a bus parking facility as a short-term solution. Later, the Transportation Advisory Committee began considering town- and school-controlled properties as potential bus lots.
"We do not want to distribute the buses," Superintendent of School Diana Rigby said early on in the evening. "Distributing the buses is a last resort. That is a last resort.”
With its vote in favor of of soliciting for locations for a bus facility, the School Committee was looking primarily for a short-term solution, although if a good long-term idea came along members wouldn't be against that possibility.
The approved motion is for a one-year contract that would give the school district an option for a second year, followed by an option for a third year.
Later on the TAC tackled potential sites for parking school buses.
“There are 50 parcels of land owned by the schools or the town,” School Committee member Phil Benincasa said. “You start out with that and it sounds great, but when you start going through there’s a very limited amount of sites you can use. My concern has been to make it in the most economical way possible.”
Fourteen sites were considered initially, but three of the sites were eliminated for various reasons, while a few were mentioned as being especially good possibilities. Town Manager Chris Whelan is going to be making a couple of phone calls to look further into a couple of the sites.
When it came to considering sites, residents in attendence appeared frustrated over the lack of easy-to-understand visual aids. The TAC also seemed to experience some difficulty due to the lack of visual aids.
While going over the 14 properties, the members often asked each other for descriptions or directions to where some of the places were. Without a map on display, some in the crowd also seemed to have difficulty following some of the presentation, as not everyone was familiar with all 14 properties.
At the School Committee meeting, there were several handouts regarding the new high school and its design. One resident, at the end of the meeting, questioned whether they would at some point be able to see what the school looks like now, as opposed to when they voted on it. She noted that there are currently differences, and seemed like she wanted some more concrete pictures, as opposed to the schematics that were handed out.
“I think I get what she’s saying,” Benincasa said. “And she has some legitimate concern. You get a picture of a product and it’s very generalized and then you have to start getting into the specifics. And what you find out is the cost exceeds what you thought it was worth. Then you go to something called value engineering- scaling back. … I think we have an obligation to make sure the public gets a look at the final product.”
Benincasa did note, though, that the Building Committee would be better
equipped to answer questions about the new high school.
The TAC meets again in two weeks.