Superintendent's Message

Concord Middle School Building Committee Update

October 27. 2019

Dear Members of the Concord and Concord-Carlisle School Communities:

Today, I share an update from the Concord Middle School Building Committee.  This Committee’s work aligns with the District’s Strategic Plan by continuing the process toward a new middle school.  We will continue to provide information throughout the year.


Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintendent

The Concord Middle School Building Committee Report

Designer Selection Process

Following the selection of Hill International as the Owner’s Project Manager (OPM), members of the Building Committee immediately started work on the designer selection process at the Committee’s September meetings.  The selected firm will work with the Building Committee to conduct a feasibility study and to develop a schematic design for a single new middle school building at the site of the current Sanborn building to replace the two existing facilities.

A Request for Services (RFS) was drafted and issued in accordance with statutory requirements associated with public purchasing. The RFS includes background and context for the proposed project, project goals, sustainability goals, scope of services, draft schedule scenarios, minimum qualifications for firms to be selected, and the selection criteria that will be used by the Building Committee to choose the designer.  The committee discussed using a points ranking system similar to the OPM selection process to create a short list of finalists that will be interviewed.

Fifteen firms expressed interest and will be narrowed to a field of five this week.  The Committee is working to have a firm in place by mid-November.  The selected firm will be engaged to complete the feasibility work and schematic design.  The Building Committee retains the option to consider whether or not to re-engage with the firm to move forward with construction.

Project Charter

The Committee is developing a Project Charter to memorialize key goals for the project that can serve as a guide in future decision making processes.  The main elements of the Charter will include guiding principles, project scope, total project cost, and schedule.

To date, the Committee members have focused on the guiding principles related to a transparent and robust public process and engagement with Concord residents, a state-of-the-art educational facility for students and teachers, sustainability and resiliency goals including landscape, financial sustainability for the construction project and future building operations, as well as creating a flexible and adaptable structure that can serve both the needs of the school department and residents of Concord for a minimum of fifty years or longer. The Project Charter discussion will continue at upcoming meetings and is intended to be a working document that is used throughout the design process and duration of the project.

Committee Site Visits

Members of the Building Committee continue to conduct site visits at recently constructed middles schools. On October 4th, members saw Gates Middle School in Scituate and Duxbury Middle School; during the summer, members went to Beverly and Wakefield.  These visits allow Committee members to review design features through many lenses including educational objectives, sustainability, material selections, security features and how students and professional staff utilize spaces.

Next Meeting:  

The next meetings are scheduled for Monday, October 28 and Thursday, October 31 @ 7:30 am in the Ripley Building located at 120 Meriam Road.  All meetings are open to the public and interested individuals are encouraged to attend.

Concord Middle School Building Committee Contact Information

Interested individuals can find all relevant materials regarding the Concord Middle School Building Committee including meeting dates, agendas and minutes as well as reports that led to the Town Meeting Warrant Article at  For questions and comments, individuals can email the Committee at or utilize the form on the aforementioned web page,

Submitted by Tom Lucey



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The Mental Health of Our Youth

October 12, 2019

In an effort to increase communication, each of my updates will highlight a deeper overview of the district’s work on one area of focus.  The goal is to provide a more comprehensive narrative that is informative and engaging through both my message and the related links to other sources.

It is without hesitation that I name student mental health as our first and foremost priority.   The term crisis is overused in our world.   Yet, those of us who have led in education for decades cannot find another appropriate word.  Large numbers of students now experience chronic anxiety and depression while too many reach states of true emergency in numbers not previously seen.   Although this is not a problem unique to our schools, it is documented in the most recent 2018 Youth Risk Behavior Survey data of Concord Middle School and Concord-Carlisle High School students.   Even in the elementary grades, we see more children impacted by mental health related needs.

Several years ago, I worked with nationally renowned pediatrician Dr. Ken Ginsburg who specializes in adolescent medicine and resiliency.  In a conversation with him, I made a comment as to the pressure kids put on themselves. Dr. Ginsburg quickly corrected me to say that the pressure is internalized from the external messages that bombard our youth:  school, parents, peers, social media, college.  Children in high risk categories are even more likely to be seriously impacted by these messages.  A recent Washington Post article classified students in top performing environments like ours to be at more risk than some of their peers.

The development of the 2018-2023 Concord/Concord-Carlisle District Strategic Plan found consensus among students, parents, staff and community members that student wellbeing must be a priority objective.  Our partners at Challenge Success inspire us to rename success as fostering independence and critical thinking rather than just test scores and grades.   Throughout the year, I will provide updates on our school-based approaches and goals in structural, instructional and academic efforts to foster a more balanced approach.

This past Thursday was National Mental Health Awareness Day.  Naming the concerns about the mental health of youth from early childhood to high school is the most important step to finding solutions.   This topic is complex and layered.   It requires that we all join in the discussion and understand its impact, our individual and collective roles and how to change course at an aggregate and personal level.  Please join us in this important conversation.


Dr. Laurie Hunter, Superintendent