With funding for Concord’s new middle school now securely behind them, Joint School Committee members are now looking at improving buildings serving the grades above and below.
They plan to evaluate the town’s “aging” elementary schools in the coming months and are revisiting a years-old discussion about two potential improvements to Concord-Carlisle High School: adding permanent restrooms at the athletic stadium and constructing an outdoor track on campus, Concord Carlisle Regional School Committee Chair Tracey Marano said.
In 2017 and 2018, a Campus Advisory Committee explored the feasibility of these projects, which were intended to “complete” the still-young campus after its construction in 2015. Momentum for the projects stalled, Marano said, when the pandemic hit and middle school planning efforts took center stage.
“We’re at the very beginning stages of this,” she said. “We’re trying to socialize [the potential projects] to see: what does the community want and need?”
Marano described the pod of porta-potties that currently service the school’s stadium as “temporary bathrooms [that] were intended to, in fact, be temporary.” Plumbing codes call for a whopping 44 bathrooms to service the school’s 1,800-person arena, but Marano said the school committee can apply for a variance to bring that down to 22.
Marano said the temporary bathrooms have caused accessibility issues and are poorly lit at night.
“I have been approached by parents … and community members about some of the needs that they’ve had down there,” she said. “Our campus is very active on the weekends. It’s not just the six football games that are down there … the can keeps getting kicked [on this project], and now our duty as a school committee is to evaluate this again.”
Committee members are also considering building an outdoor track at the site of the capped landfill, a 4.13-acre area south of the school’s access road. A feasibility study completed in 2019 by Gale Associates identified the landfill site as “suitable” for construction of an outdoor track, but unsuitable for buildings.
Chief Information Officer Thomas Lucey said “significant engagement with the region’s communities” will take place before either of the projects move forward.
Marano said project funding could come from three possible sources: grants, private donations, or from the town via a warrant article.
At a September 26 school committee meeting, members said they’ve initiated conversations with Concord Preservation Committee and Concord-Carlisle at Play in search of grant funding and private donations for the projects.
“Our goal would be to have as little tax impact to the town as possible. I think that’s always the goal … to look for other forms of revenue,” Marano said. “We are cognizant of guidelines, capital projects, all of that, and we have a responsibility to taxpayers, but also we have a responsibility to the needs of students, so it’s a delicate balance.”
The committee will hold a public hearing on Concord Carlisle Regional School District’s budget on December 5, per a report provided by Lucey, and members will vote on a recommended budget on December 19, prior the deadline for town meeting warrants in January.