2014-05-09 / Front Page

Committee looks at Consolidated issues

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — The Kennebunkport Consolidated School Building Committee surveyed a long list of infrastructural improvements to be made without exceeding a $4 million cap. The proposed renovation of Kennebunk High School, Mildred L. Day School and Consolidated School will be presented to voters for a second time in November with a total projected cost of $55 million.

In early March, the RSU 21 board of directors shaved $20 million off the proposed $75 million cost to renovate the schools. After the proposal failed at a January referendum, members agreed to operate with $55 million limit: $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.

At the April 29 meeting, Cecil cited four major areas on which renovations at Consolidated will focus: replacing the modular classrooms with permanent space, addressing the building envelope issues by constructing an insulation barrier, upgrading the mechanical system and addressing code issues in the building by, for example, adding a new sprinkler system.

Subsets of these major areas include replacing a large portion of the roof, two insulated vestibules, a new electrical system, replacing all exterior doors, building a new music room, and adding two regular classrooms. With the two added classrooms, “The overall classroom count is what David feels that he needs as an absolute minimum,” Cecil said of David Crandall, the principal at Consolidated.

“There are three funding sources that are involved in this work that we’re proposing,” Cecil said. “The major piece is the $4 million budget that will go to referendum in November, the revolving renovation fund which is money that the state as granted to you. Some of it is an out-andout grant and some of it is an interest-free loan. The third funding source is the fiscal year 2015 capital budget.”

To date, the proposed renovation of Consolidated School includes an addition of nearly 4,000 square feet, which includes building two new classrooms and the music room. Approximately 32,000 square feet of the existing building will remain.

Many members of the committee and the public were doubtful that the cost of the proposed changes would stay under the cap of $4 million.

“Perhaps I missed something: you started out with four major issues that will cost $4 million. But then you say, if the cost comes in above $4 million, the committee will have to make a choice,” said Kennebunkport resident Lou Miller.

“My question is, since the four things that money is being spent on all seem rather vital to the safety of the children and to the security of the building and to the efficiency of the building. How do we make choices?”

Kennebunk resident Andi Robinson said, “I don’t feel like these things that are typical capital improvement projects necessarily have been in our annual budgets. I think that’s part of why we’re in the predicament we’re in. Because these small, not so small, maybe a little bigger issues haven’t been addressed on a year-to-year basis because it’s not in the budget, or it’s been cut out of the budget because there are other important issues.”

“I understand it’s important to scale this back to need; but in my mind, with young boys, young kids, wow, I really kind of walked in feeling like I can’t believe that we’re still talking about having our kids eat and play on top of each other at lunchtime,” Robinson said in reference to the proposed building plan for Consolidated, which does not include a new gym or cafeteria.

“I walked in here tonight concerned that we’re not going to have a cafeteria in an elementary school in Maine where we had almost three weeks this year where we had indoor recess because it was so darn cold that kids couldn’t go outside,” Robinson said.

Committee member Dennis Bodwell told Cecil, “I also believe that $4 million is not nearly enough for this project.”

“This is like ‘Bleak House,’ by Dickens,” Miller said. “We’re living in a Kafka novel. We got this situation here and it’s so frustrating. Now, instead of getting what the school needs, we’re getting it just brought up to snuff. All kinds of capital things that should’ve been done in the past but weren’t.”

The Consolidated School Building Committee will meet again at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 13 at Kennebunk Elementary School.

Want to comment on this story? Visit our website at www.post.mainelymediallc.com and let us know your thoughts.

Return to top