The Concord-Carlisle High School Building Committee agreed last Tuesday to commission a study of the impact of retaining the transportation department’s bus depot on the high school site as part of a new building plan.
Approval of the study was one of two significant revelations during the Sept. 4 meeting. The other was Chairman Stan Durlacher’s admission, in response to a question from the public, that Concord voters actually approved a school building project for which the presented design could not be completed for the dollar amount attached to the project.
As it was explained during the meeting, renderings shown and approved previously depicted an $82 million schematic design, with a value engineering that showed where costs could be reduced. Durlacher did not respond to a follow-up email seeking additional explanation.
By a unanimous vote last week, the building committee approved an allocation not to exceed $50,000 for the project architects and engineers to evaluate Concord resident Bill Plummer’s plans for keeping the bus depot on site and weigh that potential cost against other alternatives. The baseline comparison is to be the existing design development package, which would move school transportation off site and, possibly, out of district.
Approval of the study, a change in course for the committee, comes a week after the district met with the Massachusetts School Building Authority, which suspended reimbursement payments for the high school project in June and sought an explanation of the district’s decision demolish the bus depot as part of the plan.
The fate of the transportation department has been a polarizing issue for a while now, and opposition to the idea of outsourcing school transportation gave rise to the Citizens School Transportation Committee, which was established by a special Town Meeting last April and charged with searching “diligently for ways to maintain the existing Bus Transportation Department.”
Speaking to Patch after the building committee’s Sept. 4 meeting, Lisa Bergen, the chairwoman of the Citizens School Transportation Committee , said she was excited about the new study plans.
Bergen also said her board would be eager to lend a hand, or its research, or help in any way it could should the CCHS Building Committee seek its input.
During last week’s meeting, Durlacher said he views the bus depot study as a fork in the road at the beginning of a series of steps for the project. The study won’t be starting from scratch, due to Plummer’s work to date, and should move quickly, he said.
“I see this as a real fork in the road, and I believe we can do that in two weeks,” said Durlacher. “If it’s close, then we have a decision; if it’s not close, then we have a second decision.”