Director of Transportation,Facilities & Food Services
Administrative Secretary Facilities and Transportation
10 months ago
- Renovate Lake Region High School to meet all NEASC standards, with adequate library, guidance, office, and cafeteria space. The bus repair facility and automotive vocational program should be removed to ensure safe air quality.
- Renovate Lake Region Vocational Center, including renovation of space freed up from the automotive program. Existing "white house" modular building should be removed.
- Construct a new combined transportation and automotive / construction / or green energy vocational facility to be built on District-owned land adjacent to the High School.
- Plan for two or three K-5 schools, an expanded Songo Locks and Stevens Brook, as is and possibly Sebago, based on stable K-5 population. The Sebago Elementary School could be returned to the town for community purposes.
- Maintain the 6-8 middle school.
- Keep Crooked River Elementary in the District inventory but use it for Special Services office, Adult Education, Southern Maine Community College, pre-K-12 instructional program's alternative middle and high school programs, pre-K or early childhood, etc., as well as conference and community spaces.
- Maintain the Central Office in its current location.
- 2009-10 - Return Bridgton Memorial to the town
- 2009-10 - Redistrict K-5 students into three K-5 buildings
- 2009-10 - Begin construction of a new transportation and vocational automotive / green energy facility
- 2010-11 - Move Adult Education to Crooked River (including possible Southern Maine Community College programs and any alternative middle and high school programs, and/or early childhood or pre-K programs.
- 2010-11 - Begin renovations at Lake Region Vocational Center
- 2011-12 - Begin renovations at Lake Region High School
- 2013-14 - Retire modular buildings at Vocational Center and High School
- 2014-15 - Revisit K-5 facilities needs; adjust plans accordingly
- Total 10-year savings by closing Casco Memorial: $627,946
- Total 10-year savings by moving 6th grade to LRMS: $1.2 million
- Total 9-year savings by closing Bridgton Memorial: $870,305
- Total 8-year savings by redistricting and creating three K-5 schools: $2.4 million
- Grand total of facilities related savings 2007-2017: $5.09 million
- 2009-2017 costs of new transportation and vocational facility: $2.5 million (total amortized cost of project = $3.73 million)
- 2010-2017 costs of renovations to the Vocational Center: $2.07 million (total amortized cost of project = $3.19 million)
- 2011-2017 costs of renovations to the High School: $1.87 million (total amortized cost of project = $4.47 million)
- Grand total of facilities improvements 2009-2017: an estimated $6.9 million (total amortized cost of all projects = $12.66 million ( Note: The savings and the improvement costs would both extend beyond 2017)
- 2007-2017 Savings as a percentage of the total improvements: 65%
- Board and public discussion at January 22nd Board meeting
- Administration and Board present facilities report and 10-Year plan in each town and at Board of Selectmen's meetings
- Board assembles and synthesizes public feedback
- Board reviews feedback and develops, then votes on final plan
- As needed, voters in Casco and Naples vote on school closure
- Implementation phase, final cost analysis
- This aspect of the comprehensive plan drew the most heated opposition. While some members of the public expressed the view that children are resilient or that budget realities warranted taking extreme measures, the vast majority of the public input on redistricting was negative.
- Parents spoke in dramatic terms about how their children would be impacted by being separated from their current classmates and friends. Citizens worried about the impact on the town of Naples, which would bear the brunt of proposed student re-assignments, arguing that a sense of community would be lost.
- Others expressed the concern that the proposed plan would pit elderly taxpayers against young families, and, in fact, many parents spoke out in favor of higher taxes if that were to be the deciding factor.
- Overall, those attending the meetings appeared to agree that the human costs of moving just a handful of students away from their friends outweigh any potential savings.
- Moreover, some argued that moving all the students from a town would be vastly preferable to moving just a few.
- Many suggested that adding a portable to Songo Locks would be a practical way of dealing with the need to use Crooked River for other purposes.
- While many accepted the logic of keeping students in one school for six years (in a K-5 school setting), others stated that the current arrangement had not produced negative consequences.
- Many voices expressed the worry that any boundary lines that would be established would by necessity have to be flexible to deal with population changes. Some parents stated that their families would be motivated to sell their house or rent in order to avoid being impacted by the redistricting plan.
- The issues of daycare and after-school recreation programs were frequently mentioned as ways that families would suffer negative consequences. (Note: Patrick met with the four recreation directors during the last few weeks to discuss concerns and possible solutions.)
- Many expressed the perspective that their property values would be negatively affected if the plan were to be implemented.
- What to Do With Crooked River:
- A clear theme in the public responses was to ask, "Why would we close, or use Crooked River for different purposes, when we could more easily justify closing Sebago?"
- Some argued that using Crooked River for adults (or in one case "dropouts") was in effect taking away a valuable resource from young people and giving to those who do not need it as badly.
- One participant suggested that we turn the gym at Crooked River into a bus repair facility. A number of people suggested that the Central Office be moved there.
- A town official questioned our interpretation of the Maine statutes that govern school closures, suggesting the Maine Municipal Association (MMA) lawyers had advised him that we were incorrect. However, after consultation with DOE officials, and seeking an Attorney General's Office clarification, our interpretation of the statute was indeed correct, meaning that if Crooked River were to be used for purposes other than K-6 instruction (the purpose for which it was built) the voters of both Naples and Casco would have to approve. Likewise, the two towns would have to share the additional cost of maintaining the school should the voters reject the ballot measure to close the school.
- Adult Education Considerations:
- The most often cited concern regarding the Adult Education program was the possible impact on SAD #72 participants in the program and the possible impact on Bridgton's participants and the future development of the Depot Street area. The proposed move of the Adult Education program to Crooked River might, it was argued, jeopardize our working relationship with SAD #72. The distance from Bridgton was also cited as a possible obstacle to continuing high quality programs that have combined to make an effective cluster of services to Bridgton residents in particular.
- It was mentioned, consistent with earlier considerations by the Facilities Committee, that a better location for the Adult Ed program would be the current Central Office facility, which would lessen the geographic issues for SAD #72 and Bridgton.
- Options for the Central Office:
- Several comments were expressed regarding the use of the Central Office. One person implied that the superintendent was being selfish by not moving the Central Office to a less expensive facility. Others suggested that the office should be leased to generate revenue.
- We did explore the possibility of leasing, and in conversations with the Boulos Company in Portland learned that the current going rate for professional lease space (with a significant margin of error due to the economic climate) is $8-$10 per square foot. Leasing the space might also require the District to take responsibility for modifications to the space to meet the needs of a lessee. At $10 per square foot, it would be possible to generate roughly $35,000 per year. It is legal for Districts to enter into a 10-year lease for such purposes.
- Depending on how Crooked River would be used if Adult Education moved there, space might be available on the first floor to house the Central Office, which might lead to certain efficiencies if we shared secretary and receptionist positions.
- Other suggestions included moving the Central Office to Stevens Brook or the High School.
- Short and Long-Term Options for Sebago:
- Faced with the prospect of 67 students from Naples being transferred to either Stevens Brook or Sebago, the resounding opinion of the participants in the public meeting at Songo Locks was to close Sebago and close it now. Those few Sebago residents in attendance took issue with this alternative, as one might expect.
- We were left with a rather unclear picture of the public sentiment regarding the long-term viability of Sebago Elementary. While some agreed that the building would not last forever, what to do about that fact remains an open question. It was suggested that we take money that is included in the plan for improvements to Songo Locks and spend it on renovating Sebago. Others suggested closing the school eventually and moving all the students to Stevens Brook, or closing the school and dividing the students between Songo Locks and Stevens Brook.
- Many emotional comments were made about the benefits of a school as small and caring as Sebago. Several people said they had specifically moved to Sebago to live in a community with such a school, and would either consider moving or home-schooling to avoid having their children bused to other communities.
- Bus routes and time on buses was of particular concern throughout the discussions, but especially so in Sebago where distances to other schools would require some ride times approaching an hour.
- Vocational and Transportation Facility:
- By clearly linking this project with the High School and Vocational Center renovation, the public comments were essentially supportive of the project. Of course, concerns were voiced about the cost and complexity of the project, while others worried that the transportation facility, on its own, had been rejected twice before by the voters.
- It was interesting to see the positive reaction to thoughts about including "green energy" vocational programs in the facility and to link such programs with local economic development initiatives. (Note: SAD #61 has been invited, along with only one other District in Maine, to participate in a grant proposal to the National Science Foundation to explore teacher leadership in sustainable energy curriculum. Patrick will report to the Board on this prospect soon.)
- With news of the passage of the federal support for States and Districts, we have been watching closely to see if one or more aspects of our facilities work could be eligible for support. Unfortunately, it appears that new construction is not eligible, and that the State of Maine will oversee any dissemination of "modernization" funds that could potentially be used for aspects of the High School and Vocational Center renovations. More details will follow from Maine officials in the coming days and weeks.
- High School and Vocational Renovation Project:
- As the public meetings unfolded, it became increasingly clear that the public understands the need and supports the plan to improve the High School and Vocational Center. Repeatedly, citizens and parents stated their support for making those renovations, but not at the cost of disrupting the education of elementary students to do so.
- Some discussion took place on the extent and cost of the renovations to the High School and Vocational Center, and it was clear that the public would expect this to be conducted in a cost-effective manner. Likewise, the proposed vocational and transportation facility came under the same kind of questioning. The public, it became clear, expects the District not to waste money on "bells and whistles" (in spite of Patrick's assertion that in schools bells and whistles are not extras).
- It was also reassuring to hear the widespread agreement that the NEASC report should be taken seriously. Though a few voices raised questions about the seriousness of the report and the threats to take away the school's accreditation, overall the public accepted that the risk of doing nothing to begin improvements was too great, and that we should move forward.
- Add a Portable to Songo Locks: The most often cited alternative to the human costs of redistricting was the suggestion that we add a portable (2-4 classrooms would suffice; 4 would probably be more prudent) to the back of Songo Locks, thus making sufficient space to accommodate all of the 155 4th and 5th graders at Crooked River. While some argued that we should keep Crooked River open and use it for its current purposes, many accepted the need to find savings through closing Bridgton Memorial and saving staffing and some operating costs at Crooked River. Andy has begun conversations with both Schavi and the Maine Department of Education to explore total costs and any State support for which we might be eligible, and will have a more comprehensive update at the Facilities Committee meeting on February 25 at 5:00 p.m. at the Central Office. Several aspects of this plan must be considered:
- Possible Program Moves: In order to make space for the 155 students, it might be necessary to relocate one or two programs currently housed at Songo Locks, an autistic program and a behavioral program. Space currently exists at Sebago for the former and at Stevens Brook for the latter. If we install a four-room portable, rather than a two, itís possible that those moves might not be necessary.
- Long-term Options: The immediate installation of a portable at Songo Locks, which could be lease-purchased for either five or seven years, would not interfere with the proposed addition of a bricks and mortar wing six to seven years into the future to accommodate Sebago students when and if the District were to consolidate into two K-5 elementary schools. However, the portable would give us the maximum flexibility in both short- and long-term perspectives, leaving until another day the public discussion of the future of Sebago Elementary.
- Logistics: It would make the most sense to add a portable to the rear of the building, basically north of the back wall of the P.E. supply room, which would involve adding a new door to the back of the building and converting the P.E. room into a hallway. On the positive side, there are two bathrooms and a drinking fountain close to the location, which would allow the portable to be installed without plumbing. However, if we attach the portable to the building (the preferable approach), we would need to install a fire sprinkler system to keep it consistent with the school as a whole. A key question is what type of foundation (frost wall, sauna tube posts, or paving) would be most workable in both short- and longer-term views. We would also need to ensure that accessibility requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act were met through ramping or elevation adjustments.
- Keep Crooked River Open; Find Alternative Space for Adult Education: Proposals ranged in this set of options from leaving Adult Ed where it is, through either keeping the building or leasing back space from the town of Bridgton, to moving the program into Stevens Brook or moving it to the current Central Office. It was also mentioned that we could move Adult Ed to Sebago were it to be closed soon.
- Stevens Brook Alternative: Moving the entire Adult Education program into Stevens Brook would require extensive remodeling of the interior spaces and considerable reworking of exterior, parking, and entrance aspects of the current building. Moreover, the combination of programs for high school students and adults with elementary programming would pose some major challenges. However, used as an auxiliary Adult Ed site in the day and used more extensively in the evenings, Stevens Brook could be part of a solution that addressed some of the geographical issues of moving to Crooked River.
- Stay at Bridgton Memorial: While this alternative would be appealing to those who worry about proximity to Bridgton and SAD #72, if the District were to either retain ownership of the building or lease back space after its return to the town, the District would likely see no immediate or long-term savings necessary to fund other high priority facilities projects.
- Install a 6-room portable classroom building on the rear (north) of Songo Locks Elementary, which would allow all current students at Crooked River Elementary School to be transferred in the 2009-10 school year to Songo Locks. Include in the financial spreadsheet both costs of the portable and any offsetting revenues from the State of Maine.
- Suspend any further discussions of immediate redistricting, but continue to plan for the long-term with Sebago Elementary. Retain considerable flexibility, however, to include changes in local budgets, costs of renovation, and student enrollments District-wide in any final decisions about the school. Indeed, the revisiting of the future of Sebago Elementary should be cast as a review of all K-5 educational and facilities needs.
- Sharpen our planning for the move of Adult Ed to Crooked River to include modifications that would accommodate the needs of SAD #72 and the town of Bridgton, but include a possible move as early as fall of 2009.
- Consider the viability of leasing the current Central Office and moving the functions to Crooked River Elementary.
Songo Locks School Modular Building Arrival
8 months ago
By Andy Madura
Songo Locks School New five classroom Modular arrives on August 12th.
Crews are busy putting classrooms together for opening day August 31st