Middle School Location & Design
What makes a middle school special? What do students need to be successful? How can a school’s physical design positively impact students and the community? Why does location matter? How will the new school keep my kids safe? Why is the rebuild taking so long? How does the Building Aid ranking impact the rebuild?
If you have more questions like these, or any hopes and dreams about how Concord’s middle school will best serve young learners, come share your voice at Part 2 of the Concord Greenspace Coalition’s Middle School Location & Design Workshop this Wednesday, November 16th from 6-8 pm at the City Wide Community Center on Canterbury Rd. Superintendent Murphy and School Board members will be in attendance to listen, answer questions, and to explain what “ranking 4th” for the Building Aid grant means. Don’t miss this chance to speak up about what you and Concord’s children need from this project! This is a child-friendly event.
Can’t make it? Feel free to provide your input on our community feedback page here!
REBUILD the Middle School
In light of the recent news that the land owned by Centerpoint Church is off the table for the Middle School project, we have an important opportunity for a deeper discussion around the Middle School location and design. When it appeared that the Centerpoint land and the existing Rundlett site were the only 2 locations being considered, we launched our campaign to advocate for the latter as “Rebuild@Rundlett.” Now, with the School Board reviewing other possible locations (including Broken Ground), and because we want to be more inclusive in this conversation, we are changing course.
The decision to change course was made from our team's core value of equity. We've heard feedback from folks on the east side concerned that the R@R team will fight against the Broken Ground site if it's back on the table (the school would be built on undeveloped land at the site). We feel strongly that growth for Concord should prioritize serving underserved communities and having the middle school sited on the east side would be beneficial to that end. Currently, many of Concord's resources are located on the west side (Concord High School, downtown, Concord Public Library, City Hall, Memorial Field) and relocating the middle school to the east side would be one small step towards better distributing our resources to serve ALL of Concord. We haven't done a deep dive in researching the Broken Ground or Steeplegate Mall sites because until now neither was on the table for consideration so we don't know the details. However, at first glance, we can't rule out any option that may better serve our underserved communities in Concord. This is why we "changed course" to have a deeper, wider community discussion about the location. (Please check out our "changing course" FAQ here.)
Moving forward our focus is on REBUILDing the middle school wherever it is that best serves the community and discussing a design that best supports young learners and strengthens our community. In order to figure that out, we need to have community wide conversations!
Please join us on November 16th from 6-8pm, for part 2 of a two-part community workshop on the Middle School project moderated by Carisa Corrow of Educating for Good. Enjoy pizza and snacks as we provide targeted discussion and listening opportunities. We will be joined by Superintendent Murphy and several School Board members! All are welcome - please RSVP!
Thanks so much,
The Middle School Rebuild team
"Rebuild @ Rundlett"
Up until 10/16/22 when Centerpoint Church announced it would NOT sell land to the District, the Concord School District had proposed 2 locations for the middle school rebuild project:
1) Rebuild at the existing site (Rundlett), and
2) Relocate the school to the CenterPoint Church property on Clinton Street.
Of the two options proposed by the School District, the Coalition advocates for rebuilding at Rundlett. The proposed Clinton Street location places students on a dangerous commuting corridor. This car-only plan negatively impacts walkability and opens the door for urban sprawl. Developing the CenterPoint land irreparably destroys critical green space supporting the last north/south wildlife corridor in Concord.
Let's come together to have a deeper discussion on the relocation of the middle school to:
review the research on the impact location has on student success,
explore the "2 middle schools" concept for Concord, and
hear from experts in the field on education, access and equity.
If an alternative concept cannot be found, let's sustainably rebuild Rundlett onsite in order to:
decrease cost to taxpayers,
prevent increased traffic and congestion,
promote child safety, preserving walkability, and
protect the green resources, history and character of our city.
We hope to work with CenterPoint and the City to consider placing the property into conservation to preserve this valuable green space and prime community farm land. Learn more.
Middle School Relocation
Rebuild @ Rundlett
A CLOSER LOOK
COST TO TAXPAYERS
We favor rebuilding Rundlett onsite based on the track record of the three recent and successful Concord school rebuilds: Abbot Downing (ADS), Christa McAuliffe (CMS) and Mill Brook (MBS). These 2012 construction projects came in well under budget and under bond, and on schedule. All 3 projects were building/rebuilding on existing (improved) SAU8 property.
The current budget does not reflect the infrastructure needed at the CenterPoint site which would be needed to make the site viable including traffic signals and roadway widening. The existing site already has the infrastructure to support the school. We do not have a clear picture of the total cost of relocation.
Let’s build sustainably and affordably on what we have... and not destroy what we can never get back!
TRAFFIC ISSUES & CAR ONLY SOLUTION
The CenterPoint site on Clinton Street is far from most neighborhoods with limited safe, non-motorized access. This location will significantly increase traffic on Clinton Street between I-89 and Langley Parkway (the primary route for hospital traffic from the highway). It will impact traffic on both Iron Works Road and Birch Street, which will be particularly damaging for the community gardens located there due to pollution and safety.
The only way to alleviate issues above is build a larger road, rendering it even less safe for pedestrian and bicycle travel, allowing for more development, and eventually more traffic. This type of costly development is incredibly harmful to communities, builds upon itself, and creates "dead" neighborhoods where people must get in cars to drive to get exercise rather than simply being able to walk out their front doors.
Clinton Street is already one of the worst roads in Concord and has more than double the number of cars per day of South Street. It is a 30-mph road that was designed like a 50-mph road, encouraging speeding. South Street and Clinton Street have the same speed limit but due its setting Clinton drivers go much faster.
High travel speeds, a lack of pedestrian and bicycle facilities make this location entirely unsafe for students to travel by foot or bicycle. We need to find more ways to incorporate physical activity into the everyday experiences of children, not locking them into vehicle-based travel.
WHY WALKABILITY COUNTS
With childhood obesity at an all-time high, many health advocates are calling for greater access to walkable schools as an important element of a comprehensive approach for addressing this epidemic. Children who can safely walk or bicycle to and from school can build physical activity into their daily routine. Locating schools close enough to children’s homes allow walking and bicycling to school and permits children to come back to school grounds to play on weekends and after school. Research shows walkability improves traffic safety, better air quality, enhanced personal safety, long-term cost savings, and greater student academic achievement.
In the 2010 convening report by Safe Routes Partnerships and ChangeLab Solutions on walkability as it relates to diversity and educational equity in U.S. schools it states: "Residential isolation has helped maintain, if not increase, wide gaps in academic achievement between schools serving children from lower-income families and schools in more affluent neighborhoods. Such inequity, it is argued, could be countered by truly integrated neighborhoods with walkable schools."
URBAN SPRAWL - PRESERVING THE HISTORY & CHARACTER OF OUR CITY
The current South End location is situated in a neighborhood with many small, intersecting streets. This is called a "traditional" development pattern and it is what characterizes much of Concord's thriving neighborhoods.
In contrast, the CenterPoint location has only one access - Clinton Street. There are no parallel streets and the nearest intersecting streets have no near parallel streets, either. This type of development is described as a "conventional" development pattern, and it characterizes urban sprawl and will encourage more.
PROTECTING GREEN SPACE &THE LAST WILDLIFE CORRIDOR
The Centerpoint land provides critical support for the last north/south wildlife corridor in Concord - connecting the White Farm area with the Russell-Shea and Cilley State Forests and the Turkey River. Animals need such corridors to exist in developed areas.
The CenterPoint site contains half wetland soils and half Prime Farmland soils (with rich soils from the Merrimack River floodplain). Once it is developed, it is lost. Maintaining opportunities for local agriculture is beneficial to Concord residents and local agriculture uses less energy and produces fewer carbon emissions.
The Centerpoint land is important habitat for field-nesting birds that are declining in the state. There is a vernal pool at the edge of the field this critical, specialized type of habitat that is flooded only in the spring, allowing Spring Peepers, Wood Frogs and Spotted Salamanders to breed without fish that would prey on the eggs and young.
Open land is valuable to all Concord residents. Learn more about Concord's commitment to conservation.
REBUILD @ RUNDLETT
In summary, the school district will be creating lasting harm to the City of Concord and to the well-being of Rundlett students with this relocation. We are in favor of rebuilding Rundlett on its current site.
Let's stay true to the City's Master Plan (Vision 20/20) proposing:
A vibrant, livable downtown.
Neighborhoods served by walkable villages.
Preservation and access to the natural environment.
We hope to work with CenterPoint and the City to consider placing the property into conservation to preserve this valuable green space and prime community farm land.