Rebuilding at Rundlett is an expensive option

South Street location for middle school, option one.

South Street location for middle school, option one. spearson

Conceptualn design of new middle school at Rundlett site 

Conceptualn design of new middle school at Rundlett site  SRUTHI GOPALAKRISHNAN—


Monitor staff

Published: 11-28-2023 4:39 PM

Modified: 11-29-2023 10:03 AM

Choosing to construct a new middle school on the current Rundlett site emerged as a relatively pricier alternative, resulting in $5 million in additional expenses when compared to the option of building at the Broken Ground School, primarily due to demolition costs.

The price to build a new school at either location will be costly – approximately $175 million.

However, the existing site on South Street presents a more complex construction process compared to the option of building on raw land. The demolition of the current middle school is projected to cost $4.4 million. Additional costs include a phased construction approach and site preparation, resulting in a total premium of $5.5 million compared to the Broken Ground site.

If a middle school is built at Broken Ground, the old Rundlett building could have other uses. The school district is unsure if it would use the building for other purposes or sell it.

If state building aid comes through, Concord taxpayers would cover 60% of the estimated $175 million cost.

The South Street location, with its $5.5 million premium, would take 11 years to pay the bond starting at $297 per year for a home worth $300,000. Opting for the Broken Ground parcel would result in a tax increase of $276 per year for a $300,000 property.

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School board member Sarah Robinson worried about the tax burden on Concord residents given other proposed infrastructure projects on the city side, including improvements to Memorial Field and $10 million for a new golf course clubhouse.

Whether these projects fall under the jurisdiction of the school district or the city, Robinson said the funds to pay for them all come from the same pocket.

“You can’t squeeze blood from a stone. We only have so much that we can pull from with as diverse a property tax base as we have,” Robinson said at Monday’s school board work session. “The real thing that can lead my decision-making is what is going to be the most affordable option for us while also meeting our obligations to our children’s education.”

Other school board members said the board should consider more than just cost.

Building at the South Street location would take 48 months and pose challenges due to neighborhood restrictions and concerns about its impact on daily school operations. The proposed structure would be just 20 feet away from the existing school building and 35 feet from the property line.

However, the Broken Ground site, with a lower, 30-month construction period, offers more space, minimizing disruption to the Mill Brook and Broken Ground schools.

“I think we could go round and round on disruption, regardless of where we build, the people on that site will be disrupted,” said School Board Member Barb Higgins. “So one over the other, in my mind, it’s a moot point.”

Both locations have their merits, added Higgins.

“I think parents with kids in school now on both sides of the river, in all ages, should really have input into what we do, and that they need to feel that we’re listening to them,” said Higgins. “I don’t really think there’s a wrong choice, but I don’t know if there’s a necessarily a right choice either.”

The school board will make a decision on the school location at a special meeting scheduled for Dec. 6 and the public will have an opportunity to provide feedback on Monday’s school board session and before the vote on Wednesday.