Kennebunk-area school board gives initial approval to $58.6 million renovation plan

Kennebunk High School
York County Coast Star
Kennebunk High School
Posted Aug. 05, 2014, at 4:10 p.m.

KENNEBUNK, Maine — The RSU 21 Board of Directors has accepted a $58.6 million renovation plan for Kennebunk High School, Kennebunkport Consolidated School and Mildred L. Day School.

The RSU 21 Board of Directors on Monday voted 9-2 to “accept in concept” the $58.6 million plan — $43.6 million for Kennebunk High School, $8.9 million for Mildred L. Day School and $5.9 million for Kennebunkport Consolidated School. The plan also was supported and recommended to the board by the Facilities Committee.

The $58.6 million plan is a 22 percent reduction from the failed January referendum of $75 million.

The district is in the process of hiring a construction manager, with interviews of three candidates soon to be conducted, who will finalize the cost of the project planned to go before voters in November. The board’s final decision will not come until September when the board votes on the plan that will go to voters, said Chairwoman Maureen King.

“I think it’s important as we move through this process that we take the next step and say these are the plans that we’re going to look at. These are the ones that we’re going to task our administrators and our architect and soon our construction manager, when we get to that point, to task them with refining these plans and bringing us back better numbers,” King said.

While building committees for the three schools worked to meet a total project scope of $55 million, as set by the RSU 21 Board of Directors — $42 million for Kennebunk High School, $9 million for Mildred L. Day School and $4 million for Kennebunkport Consolidated School — the Kennebunk High School and Kennebunkport Consolidated School building committees said projects that met that price would not meet the needs.

“This alternative best meets the goals of the Facilities Use Plan, and it will provide strong programs, resources and facilities to effectively and efficiently help students realize their strengths, interest and capabilities,” said Jason Gallant, chairman of the Kennebunk High School Building Committee, of the $43.6 million plan.

Kennebunkport Consolidated School Building Committee Chairman Amy Johnson, also a member of the RSU 21 Board of Directors, said the $5.9 million proposal would create “a building we can be proud of for the next 25 to 30 years,” while she called a $4 million project “simply inadequate.”

“We decided it would not serve the needs of the students, the staff, the community, and it would not make us a building that we would be proud of,” she said. “Thus, we went forward with the recommended plan at $5.9 million, and we feel that this plan would meet these needs.”

Interim Superintendent Kevin Crowley, who chaired the Mildred L. Day School Building Committee, said the group met the $9 million target, which creates a building that is “safe for kids, parents and our staff.” He said there are wants that are being given up, such as keeping the music and art classrooms in a separate building.

Crowley said students have to walk outside to access the music and art classrooms, though he noted the space is different from a modular classroom. Instead, he said it is a building built on a floating slab.

“Is it ideal to have kids going outside to get to their classroom? It absolutely is not, and when we came up with the plan at $11.3 million they were not,” he said. “But it’s just impossible at $9 million to accomplish everything that we wanted to accomplish.”

Board member Frank Drigotas, who made the motion before the board for the $55 million target, said his goal was for the “building committees at each of these three projects to give very thoughtful consideration and to make some hard decisions on need vs. want.”

“Looking at these plans, I think they’ve accomplished that,” he said, referencing the 22 percent reduction in the total project cost from the failed January vote. “That’s getting rid of a lot of want. It’s almost $20 million of ‘want,’ and I think it’s getting closer to ‘needs’ now.”

The board on Monday did not support moving forward with $2.5 million in athletic improvements at Kennebunk High School. While there are improvements within the $43 million project — including drainage improvements, resurfacing of the existing track, and new restrooms and concessions building — the additional $2.5 million would have included an artificial turf field and new stadium lighting.

“I don’t see why this can’t be revisited down the road after we’ve done what’s most important,” said Drigotas, who noted his support for athletics, including having three boys go through Kennebunk High School and attending an estimated 300 to 400 of their games. “What’s important and foremost is educating our children, and our buildings are in need of repair. They are in need of updating. If you put an artificial turf proposal, even as a separate question on the ballot, the $58 million, or whatever it ends up being I predict will not pass.”

 

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