Town Clerk Anita Tekle swore in 23 new members of the Concord-Carlisle High School building committee Wednesday at the start of its first meeting.
Co-chairs Jerry Wedge from Concord and Karla Johnson from Carlisle, both architects, were elected to steer the town toward construction of a renovated facility. Johnson was not at the meeting.
Town Meetings in both communities approved $1.3 million for a feasibility study, the first step in drawing in the state's School Building Authority which may end up reimbursing the town for approximately 30 percent of the cost.
But Wedge said a crucial meeting of the MSBA is on July 28, and the town very much wants to be on the agenda because the authority only meets once every two months.
Wedge said Concord wants to go from the "repair" list to the full-on "renovation-replacement" list which would acknowledge a larger project. Concord is now on the lower-level "repair" list but is hoping to move up to the more inclusive renovation level.
The MSBA did not have Concord on its radar at all until just before Town Meeting, Wedge said. He said the administration, including Superintendent Diana Rigby and Assistant Superintendent John Flaherty are requesting a meeting before the 28th to make the case for Concord's larger project.
The new committee is made up of administration members, residents from both towns, teachers, a student, Principal Peter Badalament, and observers from the FinCom and selectmen, among others. A full list is below.
The building committee will meet monthly on the second Wednesday of the month, and add a meeting when appropriate, from 6 to 8 p.m. Because the committee includes teachers and administrators, Wedge said he prefers the earlier start to wind up by 8 p.m.
Rigby said her goal is to start construction within two years, and to have a successful Town Meeting vote for construction funds in 2011. To that end, committee member Michelle Ernst will create a website: www.cchsbuilding.org to keep the communities informed.
Concord architect Peter Nobile of the Green Team is on the committee to represent and advocate for elements of sustainable design. Wedge said the Green Team was helpful in incorporating green design at the new Willard School.
"The town has made a commitment to sustainable design," said Wedge.
Ernst will also create a Facebook page for the project. Senior Margaret Waterman, who serves on the committee with her father, Richard, will advocate for the project among her fellow students.
"The key to the vote a year from now is keeping people informed," said Rigby. She said a sub-committee will focus on communications.
Flaherty said while the MSBA is an integral part of the design and construction, with strict standards and regulations, it is "evolving" from the older School Building Assistance Board that was an arm of the Department of Education.
The newer MSBA is under the state treasurer's office.
"We are trying to get a meeting going," said Flaherty. "There are a lot of unknowns with the MSBA," he said.
But Wedge said "a year ago we were as far away as we could be" from having the state reimburse the town for the school project. He said the school's statement of need was put on hold for two years.
"We were told there were greater needs out there," said Wedge.
The town spent $250,000 for a master plan, and soon after, "the MSBA invited us to apply and get approval for a feasibility study," Wedge said.
Now, the study has been authorized, "which will satisfy the first requirement," he said.
"It is a slow partnership," said Rigby, referring to the MSBA.
If Concord is not on the agenda for the July 28 MSBA meeting, Wedge said the building committee will have to wait for two months when he would like to be soliciting bids for a project manager during the late summer.
Wedge said the committee cannot issue requests for Owner Project Management firms without knowing the scope of the project. The scope depends on getting on the renovation list instead of the repair list. So the committee has to await the MSBA meeting.
But assuming the best scenario, Wedge said the committee should be issuing requests for project managers for an expanded building project within six to seven weeks from July 28.
The building committee will name a sub-committee to review the bids that come in for the project management firm, and bring three finalists to the whole 23-member committee for the final interviews and selection.
Committee members Stan Durlacher, Richard Waterman and Peter Nobile offered to be on the sub-committee to review the OPM bids.
"We could have the OPM (Owners Project Manager) signed by the end of September," said Wedge.
The next building committee meeting is July 28 at 6 p.m. at the high school library.
Building Committee members: