Concord School District officials to put middle school feasibility study out to bid later this month

  • Manoj Rai gets off the bus in front of the family's apartment complex last week. Rai has started at Rundlett Middle School.(GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff)

  • Rundlett teacher Laura Ernst with 8th grader Reyer Bliss, 13, in her German class Thursday.

  • We stopped by Rundlett Middle School's annual Around the Word festival last week.

  • The cast of “Bye Bye Birdie” rehearses the second act at Rundlett Middle School on Wednesday, April 13, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)

  • Rundlett Middle School students got a chance to travel the world thanks to Google Expeditions Pioneer Program.

Monitor staff
Published: 7/4/2016 10:51:06 PM

Concord School District officials plan to take a hard look at the needs of the aging Rundlett Middle School early this fall.

Later this month, the district will put out a request for proposals for professional services to evaluate Rundlett’s educational programming, as well as the building’s many needs.

“Rundlett is very tired,” said Concord school board member Rusty Cofrin, who is chairman of the board’s Capital Facilities Committee.

Concord’s middle school was built in 1957. As the building has aged, it needs regular, expensive repairs to the roof, floors and bathrooms.

School district officials and school board members are starting the process of studying whether to spend millions on a bond for upcoming, significant repairs or to build an entirely new school. One of the most critical needs is a new roof, as the current one leaks every year and consistently needs small patches.

Earlier this year, Cofrin and other school board members toured the building and saw many of its recurring issues.

“They do a fantastic job down there, but you can only do so much,” he said. “We could clearly see there could be a possibility of replacing the whole school, rebuilding it. That’s what we’ve got to decide.”

District officials are taking a similar approach to Rundlett as they did with the city’s three new elementary schools that were constructed in 2010. In that case, district officials started out with a feasibility study to see what were the most critical things that needed to be taken care of.

But the Rundlett visioning session has a broader scope that goes beyond the school building. It will also take into account what a 21st- century middle school looks like from an educational perspective.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an analysis of whether or not we need to build a new middle school,” said school board member Nathan Fennessy, who also serves on the Capital Facilities Committee. “I think it’s really a fact-finding exercise, trying to get a sense of what, if anything, we should do.”

The request for proposals release date is July 15 and the proposals are due by Sept. 12, and Fennessy said he’s looking forward to what they yield.

“We’re pretty open to what information people will provide us,” he said. “I think to some extent we know there are some things we need to do there. Part of the question is what do we want to do with that building.”

After a winning bid is chosen in the fall, that firm will be asked to lead community discussions about the future of the school with teachers, administrators and students and families and develop floor plans and designs for their vision of the school.

“Before you can even build, you need to know what a quality, 21st century middle school looks like,” Cofrin said.

He added the input of teachers, families and administrators will be essential throughout the entire process.

“They’re the people that live there every day, work there every day,” he said. “We want what’s best for the kids.”

(Ella Nilsen is 369-3322, or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)

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