Straw poll to tackle $75M design for Bath-area school

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BATH — The concept design of a nearly $75 million new Morse High School goes to Regional School Unit 1 residents in a straw poll Tuesday, Sept. 12.

The vote – to be held in the Bath Middle School cafeteria, 6 Old Brunswick Road, at 6 p.m. – is the 12th step in a 21-part, state-mandated process necessary before the project is approved.

About 100 RSU 1 residents from Bath, Arrowsic, Phippsburg and Woolwich in April unanimously supported building a new Morse at the Wing Farm business park – the sixth step in the process.

Of the $74.7 million total cost, the state would fund $67.5 million, RSU 1 Superintendent Patrick Manuel said in an interview Aug. 31. That would leave $7.2 million to be funded locally through a bond, although the district has set a fundraising goal of $700,000 to help offset that expense.

Major items included in the local burden, above and beyond what the state is willing to fund for the project, include a second gym ($786,000), a larger theater $346,000) and cafeteria ($351,000), and a geothermal system ($910,000).

The two gyms would adjoin. The state-funded, 9,555-square-foot competition gym is positioned horizontally in the building design, while the locally-funded, 2,000-square-foot physical education gym is placed vertically. There would be a movable wall between the two gyms.

“If we ever had graduation inside … you could open up that wall, and then you could put seats that would be facing the front of the other gym,” Manuel said, adding that the second gym could also be used for large functions like alumni banquets.

The items were recommended by the project’s building committee, and the RSU 1 Board of Directors voted Aug. 28 to move forward with the concept design, budget and time line for the project, which will also house the Bath Regional Career & Technical Center.

More information can be found through the Morse-BRCTC Building Project link at rsu1.org.

The day after the straw poll – Wednesday, Sept. 13 – RSU 1 goes before the state Board of Education for project approval. With that in hand, the project would go to local referendum in November.

The proposed three-story building would be nearly 186,000 square feet. The current Morse High is nearly 125,000 square feet, and the existing BRCTC is nearly 43,000, bringing the total size to nearly 168,000 square feet.

The new school could be ready for occupancy in August 2020.

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

A new Morse High School in Bath could open in 2020, if a referendum in November is approved.

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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.