Scarborough board recommends building new school to replace Wentworth

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SCARBOROUGH — A proposal for a new school will likely go to voters in November, after the School Board unanimously approved a committee recommendation to replace, rather than renovate Wentworth Intermediate School.

The decision came after testing last summer found asbestos in some of the school windows and high levels of mold in underground tunnels below the building. While the windows have been replaced and the mold mitigated, questions about the long-term viability of the building have remained.

“As a construction professional, there’s no excuse for that building,” Wentworth Building Committee Chairman Paul Koziel said during a Jan. 6 presentation to the board.

Koziel, a Scarborough resident and parent who is an attorney and part owner of CPM Construction in Freeport, laid out a basic timeline for construction of a building to replace Wentworth, which, he said, would likely be built next door to the existing school.

If the bond proposla passes this fall, he said, planning and design would begin in the spring of 2012, followed by construction that fall. He projected construction would be complete by the summer of 2014, in time for occupancy that fall.

While a cost analysis of the proposed project has not been completed, Koziel said new construction is generally 10 to 12 percent more expensive than renovation, but is faster and causes fewer interruptions for students and teachers.

He also emphasized how much the Wentworth building has deteriorated.

“We determined that Wentworth Intermediate School was an aging and costly structure and does not meet the needs of a high-performing educational facility,” Koziel said.

A proposal to replace the Wentworth and middle schools was rejected by voters in 2006, something that came up during the board’s discussion of the new proposal. 

When asked if there is any aspect of the issue that keeps him up at night, Koziel said there is only one.

“The public communication piece needs some work,” he said.

Board member John Cole asked that the section of the School Department website with information on the Wentworth project be updated and easier to navigate.

“There were some misinformation last time,” Cole said, referring to the 2006 vote. “Let’s over-communicate this time.”

A joint meeting with the Wentworth Building Committee and Town Council has been scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 6 p.m. at Town Hall before the council’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net

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