RSU 1 seeks input on Bath high school project

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BATH — Regional School Unit 1 is looking for community participation as it determines whether to renovate 87-year-old Morse High School or build a new school.

“We have the opportunity to build a school worthy of the region and of the fine education that our students receive at Morse,” Superintendent Patrick Manuel said in a Feb. 5 press release. “A school is more than a building, it is more than a curriculum, it is a community of learners and teachers preparing people for life.”

RSU 1 last year formed a nine-person building committee, composed of three members each from the central office, School Board, and community. Other panels will provide opportunities for additional community input.

“There will be plenty of opportunities for students, teachers, parents of RSU 1 students, alumnae, employers and community members to serve on sub-committees, take part in community forums and advise us on our process,” Manuel said.

Anyone who wants to take part can reach the superintendent at 443-6601.

Morse was built in 1928; a new wing was added in the 1960s.

RSU 1 Facilities Director David Richards described some major issues in the building late last year:

• Steam boilers from 1987 that have nearly reached the end of their 30-year lives.

• A shortage of good student drop-off and pickup areas outside the school.

• Accessibility challenges.

• And bricks that wick moisture from outside to inside, creating calcium deposits and cracks around windows.

RSU 1 hired design firm Lavallee Brensinger of Manchester, New Hampshire, for engineering and architectural services. The design firm will conduct a “new-versus-renovation” analysis of the current school facility, and recommend whether the district should renovate or reconstruct.

The project is guided by a 21-step major capital school construction process.

The analysis determining whether to renovate or rebuild the school is No. 5, and a local referendum, following the state Board of Education’s approval of the project concept, would be No. 13. Bonding, construction and a project audit are the final three steps.

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

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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.