2014-09-19 / Community

Board puts brakes on renovation project

Discrepancy in school construction costs means question won’t go to voters in November
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — Due to an $8 million discrepancy in estimated construction costs, the Regional School Unit 21 board of directors reluctantly announced Monday night that it has decided not to present the multi-million dollar renovation project to voters in November, as was previously planned.

For four years, the district has been working to fine-tune the renovation of Kennebunk High School, Mildred L. Day School in Arundel and Kennebunkport Consolidated School. In January, voters turned down a $75 million proposal by the district to renovate. The school board and respective building committees responded by tightening the project significantly, shaving off between 20 and 40 percent of each plan to get the new estimated cost down to $58.6 million.

Heeding the advice of Dan Cecil of Harriman Associates, the district hired Consigli last month to provide construction management services for the three projects. In reconciling the estimates by the district and Harriman with actual project costs, Consigli found an increase of $8 million in the total project cost.

“Due to the discrepancy in the budget figures, I, as your board chair, am not comfortable moving the projects forward to the voters at this point in time for a November referendum,” Maureen King told the public at Monday’s meeting.

“As a board, we take our role as the stewards of the public’s trust and resources very seriously. We will continue to work diligently towards a budget for these projects that reaches the delicate balance of providing the first-class facilities our children deserve, at a price point the citizens in our three communities can support,” King said.

King suggested the board set a new referendum goal for June.

“A June vote would allow us the time to thoroughly examine the budget and any ramifications that a changed total might precipitate, while not pushing the project so far off into the future as to be irresponsible in addressing the immediate building deficiencies,” King said.

Superintendent Kevin Crowley told the board they would have a report detailing the reconciliation of cost differences in “a week to 10 days.”

Said King, “This is disappointing news today, but in the long run, I feel the proper review will be of great benefit to our communities and our schools going forward and will allow us to have a successful vote on the full package of renovations needed to address the safety issues and upgrade our schools in a frugal but meaningful way.”

King then said, “It was a surprise to us all.”

The next board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 29.

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