Brunswick $28M school bond going to June 13 referendum

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BRUNSWICK — The Town Council Tuesday set a June referendum for a $28 million bond to fund a new elementary school on the site of the old Jordan Acres school.

The council also heard a proposal from the Recreation Committee for an outdoor community pool that would be built next door to the recreation center at Brunswick Landing.

Following a public hearing, the council unanimously voted to suspend its rule not to vote after a public hearing, and decided in favor of the bond for a replacement for Coffin Elementary School.

The vote to set the June 13 referendum was 8-0, with Councilor Dan Harris absent.

The council voted Feb. 6 to remove repair work at Brunswick Junior High School from the School Board’s original proposal, which combined the new school and the repairs in a $33.6 million package.

Town Finance Director Julia Henze provided the council with an updated financial impact of the smaller bond, which would add an additional $149 annually for 15 years to the median tax bill. After 15 years, the impact would decline.

Thirteen residents spoke during the public hearing, and opinions were almost equally divided. Nearly half reiterated opinions they expressed during a prior public hearing Jan. 17 on the original $33.6 million bond.

McMillan Drive resident Richard Lord told the council he’s seen Brunswick turn from a blue-collar town to a town that’s losing its middle class.

He protested the potential tax hike, arguing, “You don’t need a new school to turn out a good character.”

But retired Coffin School teacher Jeanie Doughty contested the assertion that facilities don’t influence the educational experience.

She said teachers are good at “making it work” with strained resources and ill-suited classroom space.

“(But) Coffin just can’t continue to make it work,” she said, referring to the capacity issues that have displaced the library and classrooms to mobile units, and areas designated for students with special needs to former locker rooms, closets, and teachers lounges that aren’t adequately sized or designed.

Councilors Sarah Brayman and Jane Millett said touring the school ultimately persuaded them of what Doughty described.

“It’s an inappropriate space” for “the needs and services” of the student body, Brayman said.

Superintendent Paul Perzanoski noted the district would still submit applications for state funding to replace Coffin Elementary and the junior high school.

Outdoor pool

Kristi Hatrick of the town Recreation Commission presented the council with plans for an eight-lane pool that would share facilities with the recreation center at 220 Neptune Drive.

The project would cost nearly $3 million, architect Thomas Scarlata said, but generate enough revenue through admission fees to more than offset the cost.

Plans were set in motion by a 2014 feasibility study and survey that found overwhelming support for an outdoor community pool.

The commission will discuss creative ways to fund the project at a March 16 Finance Committee meeting.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100, or Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

The Talent Development Enrichment program at Brusnwick’s Coffin Elementary School has been relegated to an old locker room shower for lack of adequate classroom space. The Town Council voted Tuesday to set a referendum to fund a replacement school, citing Coffin’s capacity issues.

Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or