2014-07-25 / Community

High school renovation plan submitted

Next step is for all three school proposals to go to a joint reading
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK— The Kennebunk High School Building Committee proposed a renovation plan costing $43.7 million to the Regional School Unit 21 board of directors Monday night for a first reading.

The board has now heard from all three committees for a first reading. All three committees will present their building plans for approval at the joint second reading Monday, Aug. 4.

As a way to reduce the initial $75 million renovation project that was voted down in January, the board “arbitrarily” instituted a fiscal goal, said Superintendent Kevin Crowley. The new total project cost to aim for was $55 million — $4 million for Kennebunkport Consolidated School, $9 million for Mildred L. Day School in Arundel and $42 million for Kennebunk High School.

The Mildred L. Day Building Committee has agreed that sufficient renovation can occur with a budget of $9 million; however, both Kennebunkport Consolidated School and Kennebunk High School building committees believe their numbers are slightly too low.


Diagrams of two different plans illustrate proposed renovations at Kennebunk High School. Plan A1, top, meets the loosely-set target goal of $42 million. However, the Kennebunk High School Building Committee unanimously voted ot dpwm, saying it does not meet the educational needs of the district, said Jason Gallant, chairman of the committee. Plan B1.1 is the preferred plan at $43.7 million. The gray areas of building space show existing structure to remain after renovation and pink spaces signify new construction. 
(Courtesy images) Diagrams of two different plans illustrate proposed renovations at Kennebunk High School. Plan A1, top, meets the loosely-set target goal of $42 million. However, the Kennebunk High School Building Committee unanimously voted ot dpwm, saying it does not meet the educational needs of the district, said Jason Gallant, chairman of the committee. Plan B1.1 is the preferred plan at $43.7 million. The gray areas of building space show existing structure to remain after renovation and pink spaces signify new construction. (Courtesy images) Like the Kennebunkport Consolidated School Building Committee, the high school building committee presented two plans: one that meets the budget cap (plan A1 at $42 million) and one that the committee supports (B1.1 at $43.7 million).

Jason Gallant, chairman of the Kennebunk High School Building Committee, told the board at the July 21 meeting that his committee studied 30 different site plan configurations before settling on B1.1.

Dan Cecil of Harriman Architects + Engineers anticipates the cost for B1.1 would be approximately $43.7 million, but said the price is not fixed. A more concrete price for each of the three final renovation plans will not be known until a construction manager is hired.

Gallant, when addressing the board Monday night, said plan A1 has “inherent inefficiencies and functional deficiencies.”

Gallant, speaking for the committee, said Plan B1.1 is “most commensurate with the type of quality of education that RSU 21 provides.”

Plan A1 includes no new construction, which means the less-efficient current structure would remain.

Cecil explained to the board that even thought plan B1.1 is initially more expensive, it will be cheaper to maintain in the near future.

The current facility requires an annual maintenance and utility cost of about $369,000, Cecil said. In 2019-2020, Cecil conjectured, plan A1 will cause a decrease in that number ($278,000).

Yet due to the inefficient layout of the building, A1 would still be more expensive than plan B1.1, due to it being “more compact and consolidated.”

The estimated annual maintenance and utility cost of plan B1.1 would be $257,000, Cecil said. The difference is about $11,000 per year.

Plan B1.1 includes the addition of 24 classrooms and alteration of existing classrooms to meet Department of Education standards (800 square-feet per room). Currently, Cecil said, 95 percent of the classrooms do not meet the state standard. If the A1 plan is approved, 72 percent of classrooms would not meet DOE standards. If the B1.1 plan is approved by voters, 12.5 percent of the total classrooms would not meet DOE standards, Cecil said.

Other new construction under plan B1.1 would include a new cafeteria that seats 380 students, a new library/ learning commons, a new multi-purpose/ gym, a 400-seat auditorium, a new STEM lab, band and chorus rooms, and new administration offices.

Changes to the existing structure include: restoration of the 1939 building and the 1981 wing on Fletcher Street, the transformation of Alexander Economos Auditorium into a 120-seat lecture hall/meeting space, and renovation of the A gymnasium. B1.1 also includes resurfacing the six-lane athletic track and reconfiguring the athletic fields’ drainage system.

The Kenenbunk High School Building Committee also proposed an addalternative aspect of the project that does not currently fit, fiscally speaking, into the project: widening the track so a soccer/lacrosse turf field can be built in the middle, and replacing the lighting system on the athletic fields — at an estimated cost of $2.5 million.

After both plans were presented, newlyelected board member Lionel Menard said, “I would like to see if we can get the target of the $42 million, which is a reduction of $1.6 million.”

“One of the thought processes is to understand the cost better than what’s presented, so I would like to get that information, if possible,” Menard said. “I’m just hoping that if the information was available to more people, we’d be able to come up with some ideas on how to get those numbers and still stay in the scheme B1.1 and also deal with, as usual, just needs and not wants,” Menard said.

Plan A1 is “less expensive, but it doesn’t work as well, educationally,” Cecil said.

Newly-elected board member Jeff Cole said, at the end of the day, it comes down to the capacity of what a community can afford.

Board member Brad Huot posed a question to the board: “Yes, how much can the taxpayers of these three towns afford; it’s a very reasonable thought and a very serious one.”

“The contrary to that, and this is something we’re going to end up debating, is, how can we not afford it? These buildings are falling down, these buildings are sinking,they’re dramatically insufficient to provide education to these three towns who are providing wonderful education to children, but the facilities are drastically inadequate,” Huot said. “Blame it on whoever you want, the fact that they haven’t been taken care of for however many years and now we’re left holding the bag.”

“But the other side of the debate in the next few weeks is going to be how can you not? How can you send your children of your three communities, how can you send your children to facilities that are sinking into the ground or that are too small, or that having shrinking classrooms or asbestos, or that are embarrassing, in some instances,” Huot said.

“Yes, we have to think, in some instances, how much can we afford, but please in your debate, in your thoughts, whatever you think about in the next few weeks, just think, can we afford not to do it?”

All three building committees will present to the Facilities Committee this Friday, July 25 at 7:30 a.m., and will present to the school board for approval to move forward Monday, Aug. 4 at 7 p.m.

Both meetings will be held at Kennebunk Elementary School.

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