SAD 75 high school project set for pre-referendum hearing

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TOPSHAM — With less than a month to go before voters in School Administrative District 75 decide whether to build a new Mt. Ararat High School, a public hearing on the question will be held Wednesday, Feb. 15.

The school, which would replace the high school built in 1973, received unanimous approval last month from the state Board of Education, a necessary step in order for the project to go to referendum.

The Feb. 15 hearing will take place at Mt. Ararat High School commons, 73 Eagles Way, at 6 p.m. In case of inclement weather, a rain date of Feb. 16 has also been set.

The March 7 vote will be held in Topsham, Harpswell, Bowdoin and Bowdoinham.

District residents voted 85-0 in the first of two show-of-hands straw polls in January 2016 – the sixth step in a 21-part, state-mandated process – in favor of building the new school on the Eagles Way campus, where Mt. Ararat High School is located.

A second straw poll, composed of two questions and marking the 12th step, was conducted in December.

The first question asked voters to approve the new school, which would cost $60 million – including $6.2 million in locally funded items above and beyond what the state will pay. That question – which did not include a turf field – passed 138-5.

The second question included a turf field – a $649,000 local option that raises the total cost to $60.7 million. That option passed 111-28.

Items to be funded locally include additional gym space, seven more general classrooms and an additional science classroom, all meant to bring those areas more in line with space allocations in the current school.

Other elements include solar hot water and a geothermal/geo-exchange system.

More information is available at construction.link75.org.

If approved next month, the replacement for the 43-year-old Mt. Ararat High School could open in fall 2020.

The new building would be constructed on the school’s sports fields. The high school would be demolished, and the fields rebuilt at the site of the former school by 2021.

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

A public hearing on an upcoming Mt. Ararat High School reconstruction referendum is to be held in Topsham Wednesday, Feb. 15. Shown here is a recent show-of-hands local vote on elements of the project.

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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.