BREWER, Maine — When the Department of Education decided last month to delay by six months construction bonds for the city’s planned elementary-middle school, school officials began work on how to provide temporary funding keep the project moving.
School leaders have decided to secure interim financing to start the work in the spring and avoid delays, Superintendent Daniel Lee said Monday.
“We will seek a bond for the total amount in early July,” he said.
With groundwork already under way on a $39.5 million pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school on Parkway South, it made sense to get temporary funding in place so work could begin in the spring, rather than next fall.
“We should be done with the site work in December,” Lee said. “So then what we’ll do is we’re doing to begin bidding on this project on the 20th of December” for the actual building construction.
The bids will be opened Feb. 5, and shovels are expected to be in the ground in April, he said.
The new two-story, 156,000-square-foot school, which when complete will be the largest elementary-middle school in the state, originally was to be finished in late 2010, and now is scheduled to be done in the summer of 2011.
“We think we’ll be 100 percent complete in July 2011, which is great because that will give us the summer to move in,” Lee said. “And we won’t be moving the children in the middle of the year.”
The state Board of Education approved the final designs last week. The new combined elementary-middle school will replace four aging elementary schools and Brewer Middle School, all built between 1926 and 1962.
The new school, which will have separate wings for the different age groups with shared areas in the middle for such things as the cafeteria and media center or library, will have 71 classrooms, house 1,050 students and will include a $2.6 million performing arts center.
The state issued a press release in September saying that in order to save money in the department’s biennial budget, school construction bonds for dozen projects would be delayed.
The state’s decision to delay bonds also affected funding for the new high school for SAD 22, encompassing Hampden, Newburgh and Winterport, which was moved from spring 2010 to spring 2011.
Once Brewer gets the state’s funds, school leaders plan to bank them and use the interest to pay off the cost of the temporary funding, Lee said. If the school department is able to “net this thing,” taxpayers will not have to pay any additional costs, he said.
While work is under way on the new school, it remains nameless and school leaders are asking residents for help. Those with suggestions can submit them on the school department’s Web site, www.breweredu.org.