Brunswick aims for June 2018 school construction

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BRUNSWICK — After getting the green light from voters last month, the School Board is finalizing plans to demolish the old Jordan Acres Elementary School and build a replacement.

The facilities committee met for the first time Wednesday night since voters approved a $28 million bond June 13 to locally finance the project, which will replace the aging, at-capacity Coffin Elementary on Barrows Street.

The new school is expected to open in fall 2020.

In what was a brief, preliminary meeting, Lyndon Keck of PDT Architects enumerated what needs to be done before a contractor breaks ground on the 90,000-square-foot school in June 2018.

“The project will go faster if Jordan Acres is demolished before we go to bid,” Keck told the committee. He recommended the 1970s-era, open-concept school, which the School Department closed in 2011, be taken down over a three-month period starting in September.

The town will also have to amend zoning for the proposed building site, because existing zoning restricts school buildings to a maximum footprint of 5,000 square feet. The project was designed, Keck said, with the assumption an amendment would be approved.

Keck proposed the project go out to bid late next spring and a contractor should be selected by May 2018. 

In the short term, the board needs to form a building committee and a playground subcommittee, because playgrounds require a separate contract to oversee the three-year-long period of planning and construction. Superintendent Paul Perzanoski suggested a committee of 12 members, composed of a mix of mostly staff and board members.

For efficiency’s sake, Keck also recommended creating an executive construction committee that will work with him on day-to-day matters and be empowered to authorize day-to-day expenditures and change orders (up to a certain amount).

Per its policy, the board must create a committee to recommend a name for the school, although the board will make the ultimate decision.

Meanwhile, Keck and his team will finalize the civil engineering designs necessary to acquire a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection, a review process that is anticipated to take up to six months. Local permits and Planning Board approval should take about three months, he said.

There is also the question of what to do with the decommissioned Coffin School, although the board noted how the answer is contingent on whether the town is picked to receive state funds to replace the structurally impaired junior high school.

Earlier this spring, the School Department submitted an application for state aid to replace the school; Brunswick’s is one of 79 pending applications, of which approximately 15 or so will be selected for funding, Keck has estimated in the past.

He said the state will start touring schools “the day after Labor Day,” and will announce the list of funded projects next June.

If Brunswick is picked, Perzanoski said Coffin might be used for junior high students; if it isn’t, it could still be used for overflow classrooms if the district embarks on major repairs to the junior high school.

What is certain, he said, is that Coffin will remain an elementary school until at least 2020, when the school that will replace it opens.

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

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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 cferguson@theforecaster.net.
  • Chew H Bird

    So, because: “In the short term, the board needs to form a building committee and a playground subcommittee, because playgrounds require a separate contract to oversee the three-year-long period of planning and construction.”

    Does this mean the costs are not included in the amount approved by the voters?

    Also: “The town will also have to amend zoning for the proposed building site, because existing zoning restricts school buildings to a maximum footprint of 5,000 square feet.”

    I wonder what the neighborhood will think of this…

    • Chris Watkinson

      I knocked on doors in the surrounding area before the vote, and the people I spoke to in the immediate vicinity are emphatically supportive of the school.

      • Chew H Bird

        Good. Back in the 1980’s I lived in that neighborhood and it had a very distinct personality at the time…

    • Corey P

      The playground is included in the amount approved by voters. The playground committee will be in charge of designing it and seeking bids for construction. Each bidder will be given the budgeted amount & offer the best option they can.

      • Chew H Bird

        Thank you for the clarification.