Letter: ‘There is no doubt that a new building is needed’

February 11, 2023

I am writing to express my support for the middle school project and for the additional $7.2 million required to continue with the project.

There is no doubt that a new building is needed. There is no A/C in either building, when a ball hits the ceiling in the gym, pieces of debris come falling down on the kids’ heads, and there are over 30 entrances and exits to each building which poses a safety hazard to our children. During this school year there has been a gas leak at Sanborn and mold remediation at Peabody. Our three children went through the middle school in both the Peabody and the Sanborn buildings. 

I was the PTG President for 2 years and was on numerous committees throughout the 8 years that our children attended CMS.  I attended many meetings, performances and parent-teacher conferences in both buildings.  I am very familiar with almost every single part of those buildings.  I have relationships with the principal, the administrative assistants, the nurses, teachers and custodians. I have been in offices, classrooms, boiler rooms, auditoriums, custodians offices, and the gyms. I believe that every single voter in this town should enter one or both of those buildings before voting no on this article. The conditions that our children are expected to learn in and our teachers are supposed to teach in, are unacceptable.  Our children, staff and teachers deserve a safe building. At this point, the town has stopped maintaining and upgrading these buildings in anticipation of a new building being built.

From what I have listened to and read, most people in this town will agree that we need a new building. The issue for most is the cost and whether this additional $7.2 million is necessary. The reason the cost to build the new middle school has increased is inflation, and the increase in cost of this building is right in line with the rising costs of everything in our lives right now.

The increase in cost is NOT due to amenities.  There is nothing fancy about this building and I object to some of the letters that have been written that state the building committee “deliberately refused to make significant cuts.”  That is simply not true and a harsh accusation. The committee has already cut millions from the original design of the building to compensate for inflation. This building committee has worked tirelessly over the past few years to give the town what it wants, while keeping costs low. I object to the fact that people in town continue to refer to the proposed auditorium as “elaborate” and “spacious.”  Again, that is not true.  As it stands now, the auditorium will hold only 1.5 grades at a time, not the entire student body.  I find it unacceptable that we don’t have a space that we can gather the entire school for a performance or an assembly.

I also read that people are referring to the gym as “expensive” and “expanded.”  Again, absolutely not true. All three of our children played travel youth basketball and my husband served on the board of CCYB for many years.  We have traveled to many different towns around the MetroWest area and Concord is lacking in adequate gym space.  In fact, we are the only town that has to pay private schools for the use of their gyms. During COVID, that became a problem.  Schools wanted to minimize the number of people entering their campuses so the spaces in the private schools were extremely limited or disappeared. 

In addition, a couple of weeks ago, there was a problem with the mechanism on a basketball hoop at CCHS.  Our men’s and women’s varsity and sub-varsity games were cancelled while this problem was repaired.  After a couple of weeks and more games being cancelled, the result was our teams had to “borrow” a gym in Bedford.  It is embarrassing to me that in a town such as Concord we don’t have one other gym that can accommodate a high school varsity basketball game.

There is nothing elaborate or fancy about the proposed gym at the middle school. In a time when childhood obesity is at an all-time high and children are struggling with mental health issues, I do not agree with the idea that a gym is “non-education” based.  Relieving stress and getting physical exercise is definitely part of the education of our kids.

Last, this building should last for 50+ years so I think it would be a very big mistake to cut corners and not build something with long-term in mind. In my opinion, we are starting very high as the town voted back in 2019 to make this building “Net Zero Energy Ready Standard”.  The building committee stated that was a non-negotiable but let’s not penalize the kids by cutting gyms and auditoriums to accommodate the sustainability goals of the town. It would be shortsighted to not approve this additional $7.2 million now.

In the end, if we delay, the cost will be higher for the town and us as taxpayers.  I do understand there are people to whom this extra tax burden is difficult, but the town has measures in place to help.  Please don’t vote no because of the perceived notion that this school does not benefit all of us and homeowners in this wonderful town.  Our children, staff and teachers deserve the best and we can give it to them with a vote of YES on Thursday.

Kristin Martines
Alford Circle