State board OKs design of new Bath-area high school

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BATH — The state Board of Education on Wednesday unanimously approved the design of a new Morse High School.

The school remains on track to open in fall 2020.

In the meantime, site work continues on land for the new school at the Wing Farm Business Park, where Crooker Construction has completed about 50 percent of ledge work, Superintendent Patrick Manuel said last week.

Regional School Unit 1 plans to open bids for a general building contractor in January 2019; bids are due back the following month. Site work should be complete by March or April, paving the way for school construction to begin.

The three-story building will be nearly 186,000 square feet, a bit larger than the existing school and the separate Bath Regional Career and Technical Center combined. The new school will be built for a population of 650, have two gyms and two athletic fields, and an enhanced theater. Access will be from a reconfigured Anchor Road.

The words “Morse” and “BRCTC” will be placed in large letters on sides along the wall of the main entrance, acknowledging the union of the high school and Bath Regional Career and Technical Center under one roof. The arched window over the three entry doors is a nod to the current high school.

The top corners will show the dates 1904 and 2020 – the first being the construction date of the original school, named for businessman Charles Morse and destroyed by fire in the late 1920s; the existing school at 826 High St. was built as a result. The second date reflects the third school named after Morse.

The DOE approved the site last year.

“Usually it’s just one big package, but because of our site being so extensive, from a timing standpoint it just made sense” to have the building design approval come later, Manuel said.

RSU 1 voters last November approved a construction bond by a 3-1 margin. The state is funding $67.4 million of the $75.3 million cost; $7.2 million is to be paid locally through borrowing, with $700,000 earmarked from fundraising.

The project has reached 75 percent of its fundraising goal.

Although one member of the state board suggested a 2020 opening is an aggressive aim, Manuel remained confident about the timeline.

“We’re on schedule with the site work right now,” he said. “… The goal is still to move in the fall of 2020.”

The project is also still on budget.

“Once the bid is finalized for the construction part, that’s when the Department of Education will revisit the budget with us, and adjust things accordingly,” Manuel said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9065 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Ledge work on the new Morse High School site, near the Wing Farm Business Park in Bath, is scheduled to conclude next March or April.

The new Morse High School in Bath is due to open in fall 2020.

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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.