BREWER, Maine — The 1917 clock that has hung at the Brewer Middle School since it opened 70-plus years ago will have a new home in the Brewer Elementary-Middle School, which is under construction and scheduled to be complete a year from now.
“We salvaged it from that school and I’m having it redone and we’ll put it in here,” Superintendent Daniel Lee said this week while standing in the unfinished school’s main office.
Work on the 156,000-square-foot, two-story school, which will replace four aging elementary schools and Brewer Middle School, which were built between 1926 and 1962, is ahead of schedule, he said.
“By next spring most of this building will be complete,” which will give staff the summer to move into their new environment and prepare for the 2011-12 school year, Lee said. “We’ll open up in the fall of 2011.”
Light plays an important role in the new pre-kindergarten through grade eight school.
It filters down from an interior tower, which will be filled with hanging fabric artwork that greets those who walk in the school’s front doors.
It flows into the back of each classroom through specially designed unseen windows and reduces the need for interior lights to be turned on, Lee said.
“Teachers don’t turn on lights in their rooms,” he said. “They’ll be controlled by photoelectric cells” that sense when light is needed.
Lights will not turn on if no one is in the room, Lee said, adding that every measure has been taken to make the school as energy-efficient as possible.
When a teacher enters the school at night, a security card will tell the facility’s computer to illuminate every fourth light between the entrance and the teacher’s classroom, the superintendent said.
“When you leave, the lights turn off,” Lee said.
The heating system is designed to circulate fresh air with recycled heat — including body heat created by the students and staff — into each independently controlled classroom.
“One hundred percent fresh air gets mixed with heat and is blown into each classroom,” Lee said. “The heated air comes out like [an invisible] fog” from one vent near the windows and is sucked back into the air circulating system through another vent in the back of the room.
“It’s the ultimate balance of good air,” he said. “Each room is a completely controlled environment.”
The entire project, which was created by WBRC Architects-Engineers of Bangor, is designed under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system, which means it is a certified “green” building.
The LEED program promotes five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.
Karl Ward, president and CEO for Nickerson & O’Day, the construction company hired to build the estimated $33.4 million school project, is LEED-certified. He says the school is constructed as a healthy, clean, energy-efficient building that is “the way of the future.”
“This is a 100-year building, it will easily last that long,” Ward said.
The new school will have 71 classrooms, each with a 42-inch flat-screen TV, and can house up to 1,050 students. It will have separate wings for the age groups, with shared areas in the middle of the building for such things as the cafeteria and library.
The library will have a 25-seat computer lab; a second 30-seat computer lab is located on the second floor; and each classroom will have six computers. Each wing has a theme based on the city’s history, including the river, ice, paper and brick making, and maritime.
“This is all about Brewer’s history and the Penobscot River,” Lee said.
When complete, the school will be the largest elementary-middle school in the state and will include a 500-seat $2.4 million performance arts center.
On Tuesday, workers could be seen painting walls, laying masonry and installing drywall, as well as electric, pipe and duct work. Ward said between 75 and 150 workers are at the job site everyday.
Maine subcontractors Warren Mechanical, Enterprise Electric, Porter Drywall, GR Roofing, Sargent Co. and Custom Masonry are working very hard and have put the job ahead of schedule, Ward said.
“All of them are from this area,” he said.
Lester Young, the owner’s representative for the school district, said most of the school district’s staff has toured the building. More than a dozen secretaries and food service personnel were given tours on Tuesday.
Lee said school officials are happy with the construction project and look forward to when it is open.