Supporters flesh out plan for new Scarborough school

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SCARBOROUGH — A vision for a new Wentworth Intermediate School is beginning to take shape.

School Board members on June 2 unanimously approved recommendations for a new school, a proposal supporters hope will end up on the November ballot.

Wentworth Building Committee Chairman Paul Koziel emphasized that the proposals are not set in stone, but are the “building blocks” of the future Wentworth.

“Not all of those blocks are going to make it into the school,” Koziel said. “That’s part of the process.”

But final product notwithstanding, it’s clear what kind of school the building committee and School Board envision: an efficient, sustainable, high-tech facility that serves third- through fifth-graders and the community at-large.

As written, the school would follow green design standards set by the Northeast Collaborative for High Performing Schools, and would include a geothermal heating and cooling system with radiant floor heating. Solar hot-water collectors would supplement the building’s hot water system.

Preference during construction would be given to recycled or sustainable materials, and a third-party commissioning agent would be involved in planning and construction, which the committee said could save the project 20 percent to 30 percent in construction costs.

The school would include a gym similar to that of Scarborough High School, including a maple floor and a cafeteria area constructed to accommodate high jump and pole vault competition. Sandwiched between the gym and cafeteria would be a stage that could open to the larger rooms on either side, providing flexibility for audience size.

A future Wentworth would include what committee member Robert Willey called a “robust infrastructure” for technology. It would feature ubiquitous wi-fi access, interactive “smart board”displays and LCD projectors.

And the library would be more than just books and desks.

“The basics of the library you’d come to expect are incorporated,” Willey said. “But we’re looking to make that space into what we’re calling the ‘Learning Commons.'”

That means reading areas, a non-dedicated computer area for 25 or 30 machines, small workrooms for group collaboration and spaces to exhibit student work.

The recommendations are the first round of proposals slated for School Board consideration. Once all proposals are accepted by the board, the project plan – with a ballpark price tag attached – will be sent to the Town Council.

Supporters of the project hope the council will approve the initiative and send it to voters for a referendum in November.

School Board Chairman Chris Brownsey said he hopes the School Board will be able to pass the full list of recommendations to the council by July.

Advocates for a new Wentworth cite the current building’s asbestos and mold, out-of-date tech infrastructure, cramped space and decaying structure among the reasons for a new school.

In 2006, voters rejected a plan to demolish and rebuild Wentworth and Scarborough Middle School. Koziel has said the final proposal this time around will be smaller and cost less than the proposal in 2006, which would have borrowed more than $38 million for the Wentworth project.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 106 or mmoretto@theforecaster.net. Follow Mario on Twitter: @riocarmine.

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