The 1970s-era Concord-Carlisle Regional High School got a shot in the arm on Friday when Treasurer Tim Cahill, Rep. Cory Atkins, School Building Authority Director Katherine Craven and School Committee members toured the building and came to the firm conclusion that repair was too small a goal.
"I am committed to working with you to get the school you deserve," said Cahill after the tour.
Starting in the lobby, School Committee member Jerry Wedge, an architect, noted that there is no real front entrance, and one walks in and confronts ramps and hallways that do not meet ADA compliance codes.
"We did good work on the building with a limited budget," said Wedge of the fixes that have been accomplished to keep the school open. Wedge said the place needed a new roof, "skin," under the facade, and all new electrical and heating systems.
"It is a sprawling school," said Wedge. "Much of it needs replacing." He pointed out the areas where leaks had sprung up and where wear and tear had taken its toll. He said the numerous windows were made of "non-safety glass" and did not provide any insulation.
There are 50 or more doors to the outside, and security is lacking, said school Financial Director John Flaherty.
"There is no clear entrance," said Principal Peter Badalament. "No control, no presence, no guidance, no offices."
The feasibility study that was voted in by Town Meetings in both Concord and Carlisle calls for the preservation of three of the school areas: the auditorium that would be expanded toward the street, the cafeteria that would be remodeled into administrative offices and the arts wing. The library, with its ramps, does not meet building code.
"There are a lot of ADA issues," said Wedge.
"The community has been very generous," said Craven, noting that even while the MSBA was in moratorium status and not approving any school projects for reimbursement, Concord paid for a master plan for the high school and built new elementary schools.
The school is at 1247 students now, but the plan calls for a building for 1225. However, Craven said the MSBA would work with the town to accommodate the enrollment.
As the tour progressed, Wedge pointed out various "pinch points," or doorways that were inadequate for students to move efficiently from one part to another. There is a "freezing" hallway that joins one portion to another.
"We would take down the S building," said Wedge.
The science labs are inadequate in size and not properly equipped. The one used for the tour had an odor of gas inside.
"Let's go," said Cahill from the lab.
Atkins pointed out that the new Willard School availed itself of new "green" technology that could be incorporated into the high school.
"It is compact, with natural daylight," said Atkins.
Cahill made note that Concord-Carlisle is currently on a MSBA list for repair, but clearly, he said, repairs won't do enough.
"After studying the master plan, and seeing the school, repair is no longer appropriate," said Cahill. "It needs to be renovated so that it is, in effect, a new building."
Rigby said she was "thrilled" that Cahill and Craven could make the time to join the tour.
Cahill liked that the pools were built by the town across the driveway at the Beede Swim and Fitness Center, "separated" from the school. "That makes sense," he said.
"We have a responsibly run committee," said Wedge. "We are concerned about cost."
Cahill said the Concord plan would be expedited as a renovation at the MSBA's Sept. 29 meeting.
"I am impressed with the thought process," he said. "We will work with you. We will reposition it and build you, in effect, a new school."