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High School Committee: We Must Act on State Aid Now

Committee members discussed the limited window of opportunity provided by the MSBA.

After , the Concord Carlisle High School Building Committee is ready to recommend one and they’re presenting their case to the state. Committee members urge, though, that the town must act now to procure proper funding.

The committee first submitted preliminary plans to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) in April before issuing a Preferred Schematic Report on Thursday, which recommends plan 14C. With an estimated 240,601 sq. ft., option 14C (pictured at right) includes a new base building with a new, separate and disconnected building that would house the alternative health and physical education wing, team rooms and other physical education spaces.  The base building, meanwhile, would include the radio station, CCTV and adult education space.

The price tag for option 14C would be $89.4 million, pending $25 million aid from the MSBA. Concord would then pay $48 million of the remaining tab with Carlisle pitching in $18 million. However, committee members are quick to point out that the number is very preliminary, as stated by Jeanne Roberts of architectural firm OMR, the firm responsible for drawing up school plans.

“One of the goals with this project is to head toward a net zero building. We’ve evaluated many alternatives and arrived at this report,” Roberts told those gathered for a public forum at the high school Wednesday night.

Roberts went through tentative plans and conveyed a desire by the committee to create a “fully integrated campus,” one that provides an energy efficiency and a 21st century learning environment.

The current high school, said Michelle Ernst, outreach coordinator for the CCHS Building Committee, is a “challenging building” and one that is not adequate for today’s students.

“All of the major systems (in the building) are at or past useful life,” she said.

Ernst related that the committee’s charge has been a complex one, but that the alternative to taking the next steps with these plans would be to renovate the current facilities to the tune of $70 million.

“Building a new facility is actually more cost effective. We’ve been conservative through this whole process and having the state as a partner has definitely provided checks and balances,” said Ernst.

Ernst also related that the committee is against taking a lavish route, instead looking to create something that eliminates unnecessary spending.

“What we propose is exactly what will support the programs we need,” she said. “We’re not looking to build a palace and we’re not going to sacrifice things students need; this building would be just what we need.”

Ernst and Roberts explained that once approval is met by the MSBA, the matter could go before respective town meetings in November in Concord and Carlisle. If plans are approved at that point, construction could start in 2012/13 with a completion date of 2015.

Building Committee co-chair Jerry Wedge told those gathered that exact monetary numbers would be ready well ahead of November's Town Meeting.

Asked by a member of the audience if the architectural plans are based on current enrollment, Wedge answered that they are actually based on projected student numbers.

“There is expansion based into the plan and that is what the state asks for,” he said.

In addition to providing insight into which plan they would be presenting to the state, committee members Wednesday night also carried a theme of urgency; failing to jump on this opportunity would mean that the school loses its turn for state aid, a window that might not open again, said Ernst.

“For me, ‘act now’ doesn’t mean the building is falling apart,” she said, “but it’s about taking the opportunity provided by the state right now.”

For more information on the Concord Carlisle High School Building Committee and their plans, visit their website.

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