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Concord School District Hosts Middle School Siting Hearing Wednesday

The SAU 8 Concord School District Board of Education is holding a hearing on Wednesday on where to site a new middle school for the district, which carries a potential final cost of around a quarter of a billion dollars.

Most of the current Rundlett Middle School, previously a junior high school, is around 65 years old. About a third of the building is 33 years old. For years, even before the massive $90.8 million elementary school consolidation process, there were complaints about the school. Most of them were cosmetic — wear and tear, concerns about “ideal” class sizes and configurations, and lack of repairs because a new school was expected to be built at some point. Other issues, like HVAC and the lack of an elevator, were relevant even if past generations of Concord students never had central air in the building for the last two weeks of the school year.

The meeting, which has been moved from the district’s central office to the high school, is expected to be well attended. Many parents and activists in the community who have concerns about traffic and infrastructure, as well as student walkers and bikers who live on the west side of the city, will be there raising their concerns.

But, ideally, the city needs to rethink schooling and buildings altogether.

Shockingly, or maybe not so, in 2023 Concord, few are raising the issue of whether a new middle school is needed now.

Few have raised the issue of cost — $176 million with $72 million expected in state aid and more than $70 million in interest payments based on a 4 percent rate or a final cost of nearly $242 million across 30 years (three years ago, it was half that cost).

There has been a lack of meaningful discussion about whether the community can afford a new school at a time when property taxpayers are paying the highest home assessments in history and the highest local school tax rate in 23 years. This, after the city received higher adequacy aid and nearly $6 million more in state aid — money that was supposed to be returned to taxpayers as “bipartisan property tax relief” in the state’s two-year budget.

Many of the same activists who are organizing against building the middle school on the east side are also working to stop an updated $11 million Beaver Meadow Golf Course clubhouse project but have been silent about the astronomical cost of the new middle school.

No one also acknowledges that property taxpayers were promised there would be no new middle school project until the elementary school consolidation project note was paid off which does not occur until 2041.

Source : Patch