Thoughts from School Building Committee meeting 3/4/2020

Typically, I would share notes from the Building Committee meetings with basic statements and facts, but tonight I just wanted to share my thoughts and concerns. I highly suggest community members watch the meeting from today; be prepared for 3+ hours of viewing. It is extremely important to hear and listen to context and inflection of these vital components that will be shaping the future of our school facilities.

First off, I believe in the concept of the high school being located at CCMS for many reasons, but having been involved with the facility plan discussions for over 2 years, I am having a difficult time logically understanding how we are where we are.

I would like to address the comparison conversations regarding the differences of the current high school and what could be done at CCMS. Comparing the two facilities, the current high school (not updated) and a renovating CCMS is comparing apples to oranges. Comparing the Stage 2 that was rejected and a renovated CCMS still is not equal. The previous Stage 2 had seen little guidance from the school committee except to keep 4 elementary schools. The School Committee is charged with leading and directing the architect and School Building Committee. At a SC meeting last winter the architect presented school plans that she believed would work based on her experience, not ideas brought forth by the SC. These were the plans submitted to RIDE. The School Committee and the Town Council did not see the Stage 2 application before submittal last winter. This is the plan that the Superintendent used for research and to make the current recommended direction change. The original Stage 2/facility plan that was overturned by the School Committee should be part of the comparison since many of the key points made by both Ms. Savastano and Dr. McAir for the high school relocation to CCMS were part of the original facility plan at Columba Street. The key points for school upgrades and configuration of space are valid and important but had already been identified, addressed and planned by the previous SC and BC. A conversation with the previous SC and BC members could of provided clarity and insight important to move forward.

I continue to struggle with moving forward with the CCMS sight after sitting through bi-monthly Building Committee meetings since last January. I was present for all of the meetings regarding the investigation to build a new facility at CCMS. It was presented that it was fully investigated by RGB from ledge, water and potential septic upgrades. When RGB presented a possible drawing of a new high school it was shown only at the current South Road School site. I specifically asked if the new facility could be placed where CCMS currently sits and was told by RGB that it could. Yet it was recommended not to continue with the plan and dismissed as not plausible because of cost, ledge, water and septic. These are the exact same obstacles that exist today. I now question on how thoroughly the first investigation was done which then makes me have question the overall integrity.

There has been little to no discussion or review to what will be done at the lower level schools. It is deeply concerning that $4 million dollars allocated to BRMS have been moved to the high school project. No explanation as to what would not be done at BRMS because of the reallocation. No discussions about what is to be done at the elementary schools today.

The direction to move the high school to CCMS will continue on the current track unless there is a clear reason such as cost, traffic study or environmental issues that warrant it to be discontinued. It is nice to see people paying more attention now, but when the BC investigated last Spring there was myself, 2 other regular community members and one or two others on occasion who attended the meetings. I appreciate the increased awareness to the facility project but I think much of the previous discoveries, information and plans are being either dismissed or people are not aware of it.

The whole back story is important.

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