Brunswick to vote on nearly $12M for school repairs

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

BRUNSWICK — The School Board on Wednesday authorized a $9 million repair plan for Coffin Elementary and Brunswick Junior High schools.

The board also decided to move forward with an approximately $2.5 million plan to replace Coffin’s six out-of-date portable classrooms with 12 new ones.

The nearly $12 million borrowing package will go to voters in November.

In a presentation to the School Board and Town Council June 18, Lyndon Keck, lead architect of Portland-based PDT, said the two schools are out of compliance with standards for fire safety, accessibility and hazardous materials.

The repair plan would make the buildings “safe and secure,” he said, although it would result in no visible changes.

Only board member Brenda Clough dissented from approving the plan, citing concern that the repair would not be as effective as building a new school. Several alternatives to PDT’s plan were also suggested by board members, before the final vote.

Saying that the cost of the repair would be about 75 percent of the tax impact of a PDT proposal for a new school at Jordan Acres, which was presented to the board last fall, board member Rich Ellis moved to re-open that discussion.

“I’d personally rather solve one problem wholly, rather than two problems partially,” he said.

Board member Sarah Singer disagreed, saying she didn’t remember “anybody supporting that proposal,” when it was presented.

Ellis’ motion was eventually defeated, with only Ellis and Clough voting in favor.

Singer asked Keck how long it would take to design and price an addition to Coffin school, an idea that was raised during June’s workshop.

But the time-line he estimated, about four to five weeks, would interfere with the project going to referendum in November.

All board members did agree, however, that the repairs are needed, regardless of any other plans for additions or a new school.

“We just need to move on and get this done,” board member Corinne Perreault said. “This is what happens where you don’t have a community that invests in its buildings decade after decade after decade.”

Richard Fisco, of Lincoln Street, criticized the lack of maintenance at the two schools, saying it symbolized Americans’ “disposable lifestyle.”

“Get yourself a full-time maintenance man,” he told the board.

Naomi DeCourcy, a parent of a first-grader at Coffin, urged the board to move forward with the repair.

“I do my best to protect my children day in and day out,” she said. “My biggest concern at school should be: is my child making the most of the education he’s given. Not about his personal safety.”

The board’s facilities committee is set to review the repair plan in detail and try to find some funds for “cosmetic” repairs, including new paint, curtains, and carpets.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.