2014-06-06 / Front Page

District receives revised figures

Attempts to scale back on school renovations continue
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — Members of the Kennebunk High School Building Committee were told last Thursday by Harriman Architects + Engineers representative, Dan Robbins, that the total projected scope of work for the renovation high school project would be approximately $43.4 million – about $1 million higher than the project’s cap set by the school board earlier this year.

Residents of Regional School Unit 21 voted down the $75 million referendum project at the end of January. The board of directors then sheared $20 million from the initial proposal, to approximately $55 million – $42 million for high school renovation, $4 million for Kennebunkport Consolidated School, and $9 million for Mildred L. Day School.

The high school building committee, along with both elementary school committees, have been scouring renovation plans to cut anything that isn’t structurally vital to reduce the overall cost. With these new fiscal scopes in mind, each committee has worked from the top down. Harriman has taken the revisions and calculated costs, which were delivered to each committee at the end of May.

A majority of the projected cost ($34.7 million) for the A1 proposal of work would be put toward new construction and renovation. The remaining $8.7 million would fund administrative costs and reserve (1:1 technology, a natural gas line, and asbestos abatement) and general fees and services.

The committee could also see possible savings.

Due to the nature of the project (the renovations more than new construction) it is likely that the district will receive credit reimbursement from Efficiency Maine. The amount is not yet known.

The option, discussed at the May 22 high school building committee meeting, moving the on-site tennis courts to an offsite location, could also help save money.

Superintendent Andrew Dolloff told the board at the May 22 meeting, “There are several other viable options for five or six tennis courts on school property. The most likely being here, Sea Road and the middle school.”

“If the referendum is positive and moves forward in November, then what would happen is, we would immediately start after the plans and after the DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) permit,” Robbins said at the May 29 meeting. “We plan right now within three months the DEP permit would be in the bureau for review ... right now, you should be complete the first of December 2017.”

The construction would likely take about 30 months to complete, Robbins said. If approved in November, the project would realistically be underway July 1.

“We’ll probably need temporary classrooms through every year of construction, from start to finish,” Robbins said.

The A1 plan has 52 classrooms, total, including special education classrooms. A noteworthy number of those classrooms, however, do not adhere to the Department of Education’s recommended square footage.

“As we look at this plan and we know, as of right now, we’re still about $1 million above the target that the board has asked for,” said Dolloff. “In order to present something to the board, we’re going to have find close to a million in order to meet that target.”

“On the flip side of that, you know that the Department of Education recommends high school classroom sizes of about 800 square feet for regular classrooms. This plan still has 20 classrooms that are below 700 square feet, about a half a dozen of which are below 600 square feet,” Dolloff said.

“So, that’s the big trade off in reducing the scope of this project down to $42 million. That’s the one thing we can’t seem to address. Safety issues are being addressed, security issues, the structural issues, the mechanical issues – they’re all being addressed. But the instructional concern of classroom spaces that are two-thirds to three-fourths the size recommended by the state is still going to be out there.”

Although cuts are being made, some residents have continued to criticize high costs. At the May 29 meeting, Kennebunk resident Ed Gagnon asked, “How do you justify spending $3 million on locker rooms? I see offices in here for coaches who are part time. Do they need an office? Do we need all that locker room space? Do we need a health room?”

Doug Stockbridge, co-chairman of the committee, asked Gagnon if he had been in the present locker rooms. “No, I have not,” Gagnon said.

“Start there,” Stockbridge said.

At the May 22 meeting, high school building committee members revisited a 2012 building scope plan, 14C, per member Daphne Pulcifer’s recommendation.

The objective, now, is to survey the possibility of converging the two plans as the physical layout of 14C is more energy efficient and spacious. 14C is also more expensive, at $53.8 million.

“The majority of the difference (between A1 and 14C) being that the majority of square footage in the plan that you’re looking at now, 14C, is new square footage which is why this plan is more expensive than plan A1, significantly more expensive, even though it only has about 6,000 more square feet, it’s new square footage,” said Dolloff.

“This is a much preferred plan. Well ,that’s not surprising – it’s a more expensive plan with better square footage for students. It’s also going to be a more efficient plan in terms of not only building it but maintaining it ... this is going to be a preferred plan educationally, it’s going to be a preferred plan in terms of economy, but it is going to be a more expensive plan because it’s going to have more new square footage. There’s where the conflict comes together.”

Jason Gallant, chairman of the high school building committee, said ,“What we’d be looking to do is basically cut that (14C cost) down to $42 million. We’re trying to figure out, as a group, if there’s a concept that can be scoped in size for the same student population as A1 (700 students with additional capacity for 730- 750) and then deal with $12 million in cuts in the way of what used to be 14C.”

The board asked Harriman representatives to run the numbers and have them by the next meeting.

“When we come back to our next meeting, I think what we’d like to do is probably try to get some additional clarification on costs, maybe have some ideas shared amongst us at that time as to where we can make responsible edits to this to get it closest to the $42 million goal,” Gallant said.

The meeting ended with a vote to urge Harriman to plan according to Department of Education standards, which includes bringing classroom sizes up to the encouraged 800 square feet.

The next high school building committee meeting will be 6 p.m. Thursday, June 19 at Kennebunk Elementary School.

For questions about the A1 or 14C project scopes, email Andrew Dolloff at adolloff@rsu21.net.

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