2014-07-04 / Community

Committee continues to whittle school plan

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — The Kennebunk High School Building Committee is lagging behind both Mildred L. Day and Kennebunkport Consolidated in the race to meet its targeted renovation cost of $42 million.

The high school building committee has been meeting weekly since the school year ended. In the past few weeks, as time runs out, the committee decided to explore a new building option, B1. They have since been finagling with the cost of the plan, which has yet to ring in below $43 million. The building committee previously drafted plan A1, which meets the targeted goal of $42 million, but most committee members agree that the plan leaves a lot to be desired.

“In my mind, whether we hit the $42 million with a project that provides all of these things, if it’s $43.2 million, you can be sure that I’m going to be gunning for the $43.2 million that provides all of our needs,” said committee member Maureen King.

Plan B1 is “our optimized plan,” King said. “This is what the building committee feels is the right project for our current needs and our future needs, and it’s coming in at this number. Quite frankly, anyone with a conscience will not be able to vote for $42 million with that A1 project.”

Acting Superintendent Kevin Crowley said, “I think it’s important to know that the B1 plan came in at $44.7 million. We’re not that far away, and I think it’s important for the Facilities Committee to see what $42 million will buy.”

“We may not hit $42 million, but we’re going to do everything we can, like we’ve done for the last week, to bring that down just as far as we can to the point where the people on this committee can sit there and say we can be proud of this product. And it may cost us $800,000 more, or it might cost us $1.2 million more, but be assured we will get it down as far as we can, and then the voters will have their say,” Crowley said.

Committee member Greg Reid was also apprehensive about sacrificing quality for quantity:

“My fear is we got Consolidated down, evidently, to where they wanted it to be,” he said, “but at what cost? You end up with a facility, what’s it going to be like 20 years from now? These facilities we’re trying to make last, to work.”

Chairman Jason Gallant said, “We need to, I think, understand the extent and we’re talking about 6 or 7 percent on what was a pretty quick pass to develop B1 in a short amount of time. It doesn’t seem like an insurmountable effort there to get it down to where we need to be at $42 million.

If we’re going to end up giving back to get under $42 million so that one of the other schools can exceed their budget, maybe that should be a goal we have. But if we can’t do that, we should at least hit our target with the best project we can put forward,” Gallant said.

Committee member Jack Reetz made a motion that the high school building committee send the A1 plan ($42 million) to the Facilities Committee, but that the building committee does not recommend approval of the plan as it “does not satisfactorily meet the documented needs described in the RSU 21 master facilities plan.”

The committee voted down the motion by a 7-1 count.

A revised, tightened B1 plan will be presented at the next high school building committee meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 10.

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