2013-11-22 / Front Page

Heating options discussed at forum

By Alex Acquisto Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — The first of three public forums regarding the $75 million renovation proposal was held Monday night during the Regional School Unit 21 board meeting. Following the renovation discussion, Alan Carp, S.T.E.M. coordinator at Kennebunk High School, presented an overview of the high school’s S.T.E.M. certifi cation overhaul.

The meeting was held at Kennebunk High School — one of the schools to undergo renovation if voters pass the Jan. 21 referendum measure to fund the renovation project for Mildred L. Day School, Consolidated School and Kennebunk High School.

A tour of the high school was offered prior to the meeting. Charts of building plans lined the wall as visitors entered the cafeteria where the meeting was held.

Members of the public were invited to speak on behalf of the high school portion of the renovation project before Carp’s presentation.

Dan Cecil, principal designer from Harriman Architects + Engineers, provided handouts detailing operating costs for each structure.

Consolidated School’s operating cost is $77,769. Factoring in the 36 percent square-footage increase via renovation and added construction, or approximately 13,000 square feet, the operating cost increases by nearly $15,000 if the school continues to use oil to heat the building.

Mildred L. Day is proposed to add another 5,000 square feet, shifting the oil heating operating cost from $82,745 to nearly $85,000.

The change in square footage at Kennebunk High School, including the lower scale arts building, is nearly 64,000, or a 40 percent change. The current operating cost of the high school is $307,000.

The oil option for heating the new facility bumps the price up almost another $100,000 to $399,400.

A natural gas option for heating was also tabled, which would cause the current operating cost to drop to approximately $253,000.

The combined projected change in operating costs for the three facilities is $253,000. If Kennebunk High School chooses the natural gas option, a decision that will be reached in the coming months, the combined increase to the operating cost is projected to be $106,300.

The natural gas to heat the high school would be piped in from half a mile away, in West Kennebunk.

“All I can say to the community is that you’re very lucky to have this natural gas so close,” Cecil said.

The cost to lay the pipe between the high school and the existing pipeline, which is near the turnpike, would be a one-time cost of approximately $300,000, a fiscal route that would pay off in about five years, said Cecil, because natural gas is so much less expensive.

“I don’t see why that’s cost effective. When you can buy propane from local people and have it delivered by truck,” said one Kennebunk resident.

Kennebunk resident Lionel Menard asked the board, “If this was a renovation only referendum, what would the cost be?”

Chairman Kevin Knight, said he didn’t understand the question, that it was a renovation only project.

Menard counteracted with an argument of excessive space proposed in the plan for Kennebunk High School.

“The state of Maine does not require that each student require 300 square feet (of space). You’re increasing that by at least 50 percent,” Menard said in reference to learning space required for students.

Cecil cited recent Maine projects in the 200s. “You’re actually well below 300 when you take out the basement, at about 277 square feet per student,” Cecil said.

Menard then cited an expansion of 12 percent, which is what is proposed at Mildred L. Day School.

“Twelve percent (expansion) is very reasonable,” Menard said. “If this does fail in January, I would suggest that you look at a renovation only or a renovation plus 10 percent,” Menard said.

Once the public comment portion of the meeting was closed, Assistant Superintendent Sara Zito introduced Carp, who was selected in the past year to serve as the high school’s S.T.E.M. coordinator.

Carp, who built his career as an engineer before he found his niche in instructing, is pushing for implementation of four years of math, science, electives and technology as soon as next year.

The curriculum Carp proposed is multi-faceted, and includes aspects such as outreach to local universities, the implementation of an internship program, and the possibility of earning college credits as a high school student.

S.T.E.M. curriculum at the high school would also require new and, in some cases, advanced classes such as Advanced Computer Programming and Calculus-based Physics.

In conjunction with the emphasis on science and technology, Carp presented the idea of a pass/fail option.

“This makes the program accessible to anyone — the only pressure is to learn,” Carp said.

Carp lauded the high school for its exemplary math and science curriculum. His only criticism was communication.

“We need to do a better job of this,” Carp said of internal and external communication with the school and with facilitating the involvement of surrounding businesses, such as Arundel Machine Tool, and colleges such as York County Community College and Southern Maine Community College.

“Kennebunk High School is building one of the top S.T.E.M. projects in Maine,” Carp said. “We are using what we already know and building it to be rigorous.”

The school board will likely vote on the changes in curriculum at the Monday, Dec. 2 meeting, which will be held at Mildred L. Day school. Tours of the school will be offered before the meeting.

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