2014-04-18 / Front Page

Revised plans keep school same size

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

ARUNDEL – The revised layout being proposed for Mildred L. Day School in Arundel is virtually the same size as the current structure – approximately 41,000 square feet. The initial proposed renovation of the school, before it was voted down at the January referendum, would have added nearly 5,000 square feet to the current structure.

The Mildred L. Day Building Committee met last Tuesday to examine a revised layout of the project with the aim of keeping the total project budget under $9 million.

The April 8 meeting was the first Mildred L. Day Building Committee meeting since a referendum question failed at the polls. However, in early March, the RSU 21 board of directors shaved $20 million off the $75 million proposed cost to renovate Kennebunk High School, Kennebunkport Consolidated School and Mildred L. Day School.

Members agreed to go forward with a budget of $55 million, with the breakdown as follows: $42 million for Kennebunk High School, $9 million for Mildred L. Day School, and $4 million for Kennebunkport Consolidated School. Each respective building committee has been working with Dan Cecil of Harriman Architects + Engineers to tighten building plans.

Approximately 4,900 square feet of space was cut from the initial Mildred L. Day School proposal of 45,749 square feet to craft the one presented at Tuesday’s meeting.

This scheme is within 20 to 40 feet of what you already have,” Cecil said of the proposed 40,787-square-foot building.

The previous plan, said Mildred L. Day School Principal Kevin Crowley, included three larger rooms (art, music and multipurpose classrooms) that have been eliminated in the revised plan.

In addition there is some tightening of square footage in the hallways, and “the vestibule is much more economical now than it was,” Crowley said.

“The building we’ve proposed is virtually the same with the difference of an Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy (OTPT) room instead of a full-size gym,” Crowley said.

“In addition to the money you would bond, there are other moneys that are available to you, most notably revolving renovation funds (from the state),” Cecil told the committee on Tuesday.

“For Mildred L. Day the money that the state gave you by way of a combination of low-interest loans and outright grants was $539,000,” said Cecil. “That is money that would be applied to this project.”

Approximately $197,000 is to be used for upgrades that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The remaining $341,000 is to be used to for life-safety renovations to the building, such as new doors and a sprinkler system.

Cecil said infrastructural adjustments and enhancements paid for by the revolving renovation funds, which must be used by July 2015, could be done in a way that would not be impacted by complete renovation once voters approve the measure.

“What we’re going to try to do is ... any money that we put into the building to try and set it up so that we can put it into the new building when the time comes. It won’t be perfect, but we think we can structure our dollars pretty well,” Cecil said.

Proposed space alterations include a smaller parking lot, no bus loop in the front of the school, one main entrance at the back of the school (where the bus loop would be) and virtually no expansion of either wing.

The current gymnasium and the kitchen would be replaced, but the size of each would not change dramatically.

The idea, said Crowley, “was to have a smaller than full-size gymnasium by way of cutting costs.”

Renovations would simply upgrade existing infrastructure without additions.

It was proposed that modular classrooms would still be needed behind the main structure to house exclusively art and music classes, the possibility of which a few committee members openly disagreed with.

“I really think we need to get all of our classrooms under one roof,” said committee member Maureen King. “I know this works, but having been in the district since 1995 with kids in portable classrooms, it’s just not right that we’re spending this kind of money and we’re still going to have kids outside of buildings.”

Crowley responded, “When we began the process, one of our larger goals was to unify the school.

“Where the weight is currently laid out, we are in two separate wings. This plan allows us to bring the fifth- and fourth-graders into the fold for one educational setting. There are faults to this (with art and music outside), but our primary educational goal of bringing everyone together has been accomplished.

“We’re building a building that’s identical in square footage, less one room to what we now have. It’s not ideal, but it’s what we have now and we’ve made it work. We can make this work.”

The Mildred L. Day School Building Committee will meet again at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 29 at Kennebunk Elementary School.

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