New SAD 75 high school could open in 2020

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BOWDOINHAM — A replacement for Mt. Ararat High School could open in the fall of 2020, according to the firm that designed the new school.

The new Topsham school’s cost, to be covered by the state, could run between $50 million and $60 million,  according to Lyndon Keck of PDT Architects, the school’s designers.

The School Administrative District 75 project may go to referendum next March, the public was informed Tuesday at a forum at Bowdoinham Community School.

Elements of the project that the state would not fund – the focus of that forum, and another three next week – could add up to roughly $8 million, if all the items were included and incorporated into the project to be funded locally.

Residents of SAD 75’s four towns of Topsham, Harpswell, Bowdoin and Bowdoinham voted 85-0 in a show-of-hands straw poll Jan. 21 in favor of building the new school on the Eagles Way campus. The project’s Building Committee has since recommended citing the new school on nearby sports fields, then demolishing the existing 1973 school and rebuilding the fields at the site of the former school by 2021.

Sports fields at other locations would be used in the interim. Practice fields, intended to be renovated as part of the process, are one potential option.

A detailed visual is available at

The next community forums, all starting at 6:30 p.m. will be held at the Mt. Ararat High School Commons in Topsham on Monday, Oct. 17; Bowdoin Central School on Tuesday, Oct. 18; and Harpswell Community School on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

Those who attend any of the four meetings are presented with lists of items to be considered for either local funding or fundraising, along with the estimated cost for each, which has not been finalized.

Elements “recommended for local funding with substantial consensus from the Building Committee” included additional gym space ($1.7 million), eight extra general classrooms ($2.2 million), geo-exchange/geothermal systems ($544,500), and additional parking at playing fields (nearly $465,000).

At the other end of the spectrum were items such as a photo-voltaic roof structure ($36,000), a scoreboard (nearly $49,000), and a snow melt system at entrances (nearly $69,000).

Participants in Tuesday’s meeting also were asked to choose between items that received “varying levels of support” for local funding from the Building Committee. Those which received the most support included a synthetic turf field (about $890,000), a second scoreboard at an accessory gym ($18,000), and a scoreboard ($36,000) and dugouts ($60,000) for the baseball field.

The building plan is to be “locked down” within the next two weeks, Keck said.

“We’ve got the plan 98 percent of the way there,” he added.

A nonbinding straw vote of SAD 75 residents is to be held by the end of November on the school’s design concept.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Lyndon Keck of PDT Architects, the firm designing a new high school in Topsham, presents a plan for the building during a public forum in Bowdoinham Tuesday.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.