2014-07-11 / Front Page

Art, music to stay in school’s modulars

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — As the deadline to present final plans to the school board nears, respective district building committees are facing major decisions: to cut or not to cut.

In the case of the Mildred L. Day Building Committee, the persistent issue has been including the two modular art and music classrooms within the main building on the renovation site plan.

At the June 26 meeting, the committee, with their hands tied from budget constraints, decided to retain the modular classrooms because inclusion will cause the renovation plans to surpass a budget of $9 million.

The committee voted for a plan drafted in May that totals $9,013,000.

Included in the approval to be submitted to the Facilities Committee is a prioritized list of unmet needs. That list, said acting Superintendent Kevin Crowley, “would include an art and a music room that is under the same roof and the multipurpose room.”

Said committee member Maureen King, “We talked about 20 years’ use for this building, and I can see what we have is good, but as I discussed in the Consolidated (meeting), to still have classrooms lying outside the main building concerns me, because I know they’re hard to keep up and they’re not as good of quality as the rest of the building.”

Arundel resident Kirsten Camp echoed King’s sentiment on behalf of her two children in the school system. “I’m disappointed that my kids are still going to be in a modular building,” she said. “This is just disappointing to me; $9 million and my kids are still going to walk outside to go to art and music. We have to do better. I should feel that my kids are in a stateof the-art school for the amount of money we’re spending on this ... I just think we can do better.”

Committee member Vicky Cherry explained that it isn’t just about not requiring the children to walk outside to get to a classroom, it’s also about cohesion among the teachers.

“There’s a strong argument to be made for having all the teachers together under the same roof that has nothing to do with bathrooms and it has nothing to do with children getting wet,” Cherry said. “It has everything to do with increased productivity on the part of the teachers and good networking to provide the children with educational programming.”

Replacement of the art and music rooms alone could total approximately $400,000. Said King, “Just to replace the kiln, the art room and the music room, which is about 1,800 square feet, based on the $220 per square foot that we have for our total project cost, is $396,000, just to replace the rooms that we have.”

Crowley told the committee that he would love to put the music and art rooms back under one roof.

“We did, and it was $12 million,” Crowley said, in reference to the proposed renovation that was put to referendum in January. “The public told us what they thought of that and it was a resounding, ‘no.’ There are a lot of things we are doing: we’re square footage neutral, we’ve got two settling buildings that we’re replacing, all the classrooms are in a unified space as opposed to being split apart, life safety systems are being totally upgraded to a 25-year life span, we’re going to have a sprinkler system in the building now, we’re expanding our parking, we’re building a new gym, we’re adding a secure vestibule area, we have separate parent and bus loop entries, increased energy efficiencies and ADA compliance across the board, and we have needs that are not going to be met. The art and music room is number one on that list.

“We wanted an additional multipurpose room and that’s not on the list either. I wish it was, but reality is, we have $9 million,” Crowley said.

“There is what we want and then there’s reality, and I think we’ve been at this for years now, and I think we have to look at reality and what the voters are going to support, and what is the best we can do for the kids right now?”

“I firmly believe that that is a building we can be proud of, and I think it’s a building the kids can do really, really well in.”

Said Camp, “Going to the polls to vote for this, as an Arundel resident, I’m upset. That’s my concern – I don’t want Arundel residents to say, ‘Well, we’re getting cheated.’”

As unfortunate as it is, Crowley said, “There are just trade-offs to everything in life. And we’re at a crossroads right here. We are trading some things that we want for other things.”

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