2014-06-27 / Front Page

Revised plan is approved by group

High school renovation now pegged at $44.7 million
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK – A revised plan that is being called “a lot more efficient,” and “much more compact” by the lead architect has met the approval of the Kennebunk High School Building Committee. Notably, said Dan Cecil of Harriman Architects + Engineers, “the three projects — Mildred L. Day, Kennebunkport Consolidated and Kennebunk High School — together, are over $15 million less than what went to referendum.”

Cecil told members Thursday, June 19, “At the last meeting on May 22, you asked us to upgrade the scheme 14C back from October/November 2012. So that it meets latest program and educational space, provides for 730 students with room for 750, make all regular classrooms 800 square feet (DOE standards), eliminate rear B and C wing and replace with modern, educationally appropriate, energy efficient space.”

The revision – a condensed combination of two previous building plans – is now known as plan B1. The total projected cost for plan B1 is approximately $44.7 million.

Said Cecil, “I think it’s important for the public to know that the $53.5 million high school winter referendum is now somewhere in the $43 to $44.7 million range.”

The proposed plan requires an addition of approximately 206,000 square feet, including: upgrading classroom size to those of existing classrooms; a multipurpose room to replace Gym C; a library learning commons; an added wing of two floors of classrooms; and a lecture space to replace the Alexander Economos Auditorium.

The multipurpose room would serve more as a field house, Cecil said, with all the “bells and whistles” of a regular gymnasium.

Economos Auditorium is proposed to be transitioned into a lecture/work space with 160 seats and a continuous work surface at each row, Cecil said, “So that it becomes a very useful presentation space, public meetings, that kind of stuff. We would basically remove the seats that are there right now and add on top of that a simple structure ... so that you would have this stepped seating and work arrangement.”

The auditorium would receive a new sound system, an upgraded mechanical and electrical system like the rest of the high school facility, and energy-efficient windows that have historic character.

The plan also includes 414 parking spaces, which are subject to change.

Kennebunk High School Principal Sue Cressey said, “It just makes sense, educationally. It makes in terms of supervision of students, traffic flow. I’m really pleased with this. And I like the idea of room for expansion as well.”

Committee member Maureen King agreed, saying, “I’m thrilled with this. I’ve been talking about compacting the area that we cover on the ground. The way the building is sited, there’s room to expand the cafeteria if we needed to, there’s room to expand the replacement gym should we need to do that.”

Resident Ed Geoghan dissented. “I question the need for 800 square feet for a classroom. I sent an email to Scott Brown at the state who handles the school construction,” he said. “Scott’s comment was that the 800-square-foot room was designed for a student capacity of somewhere between 20 and 24 students. I also went back and looked at the science classes, and it would appear that the average class size was 14 and a half students. If we have a 600-square-foot classroom, we’re well within the capacity in the rooms to handle that.

“We’ve also incurred almost $7,000 in expenses from the architects during this exercise. It seems to me that this project that you’re looking at right now is $2.7 million over what the school board has given you. It would seem to me that if you’re not willing to make the necessary cuts to remove this back down to the recommended $41 million, then I think it’s a wasted exercise,” Geoghan concluded.

Jason Gallant, chairman of the committee, said, “We understand our charge and we are on task to meet the requirements of that charge, but we need to continue to evaluate these alternatives such that we can understand where the costs are and then make the best educated decision that we can.”

The building committee will meet again on Thursday, June 26 and July 10. The intention is to solidify the plans before the Facilities Committee on Friday, July 18. If the Facilities Committee adopts the plan, it will be presented to the school board Aug. 4.

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