Early Site Work to Begin on MTA Athletic Fields

posted Jul 5, 2017, 5:06 AM by Ryan Palmer   [ updated Jul 18, 2017, 11:00 AM ]

On June 6, 2017 the Topsham Planning Board approved the development of the athletic practice field and the baseball field to be located on the newly acquired land adjacent to Mt. Ararat Middle School.  The bidding process will open on July 11, 2017 with an anticipated start date for construction of July 18, 2017. The new fields will be completed in November of 2017 and will be ready for use in the spring of 2019.

The District is also in the process of working with the Maine Arts Commission to create a Selection Committee. The Selection Committee will determine how the monies for art in the new building will be invested. The MTA Building Project has budged $50,000 for artwork to be included in the new building. The District will be looking for two representatives to serve on this committee. Qualified individuals can contact the District Office to inquire about the application process. Read more about Percent for Art HERE.

In addition to art for the new high school, the Student Advisory Committee has suggested a list of items from the old high school that would be moved to the new high school.  Items under consideration include the eagle statue in the lobby, the maps in the commons, various murals, clocks, trophies and awards. 

In addition to the update above, the following contains further information discussed at the Communications subcommittee meeting:


The Committee noted a need to recognize the new developer’s agreement to replace the new sewer line at the time of the field construction.  In addition, the District will recognize the easement from Crooker.  Brad will do a press release or article to recognize these contributions from our fellow community members.

For a future update the Committee will announce the Commissioning Agent once the firm has been chosen.

The Committee also discussed the need to begin taking photos of the construction site to post on the website.  Ryan noted that the District has a drone that can also be used to document changes through the construction process.

Signs of Construction for the New Mt. Ararat High School are “Springing” Up:

posted May 16, 2017, 6:14 AM by Ryan Palmer   [ updated Jun 13, 2017, 11:35 AM ]

Anyone driving through the Mt. Ararat High School campus will notice activities signaling the beginning stages of construction for the new facility.  Landscape architects marked a number of trees with ribbons so their surveyors can digitally locate these trees as a key piece of information as the construction plan develops.  In addition, the footprint of the new facility is being marked.  Soil testing for construction and geo-thermal planning are also underway.  Major impacts to the campus like changes to the access road, parking lots and current baseball field are planned for the spring of 2018. As construction plans develop, impacts to the current campus will be communicated to the community.

Superintendent Smith along with PDT Architects will be going to the Topsham Planning Board on May 16, 2017 for approval to begin development of the athletic practice fields and the baseball field to be located on the newly acquired land adjacent to Mt. Ararat Middle School.  Superintendent Smith continues to work with town officials and property owners regarding the sewer line that runs through the property.

The Learning Commons and Technology Sub-Committee will meet on May 9, 2017 for the purpose of meeting with a technology consultant from CDA Consulting who will assist in creating a plan for technology in the new school.  Several Committee members have been doing site visits to learning commons (formally termed as libraries) at Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT), Bowdoin College and Thornton Academy to view technology, maker spaces, and furniture design. To view an example of a newly constructed learning commons at WIT please visit https://www.facebook.com/wentworthadmissions/posts/10158549842400024.

PDT has engaged an interior design coordinator who has been meeting with the high school staff about space and furnishing requirements for different learning environments.   To date meetings have been held to discuss the administrative offices, the health clinic, art classrooms, and special education spaces. The interior design coordinator will continue to meet with staff until the end of the school year.

The Building Systems and Sustainability Sub-Committee will be seeking School Board approval to begin RFPs for screening and hiring a commissioning agent. The commissioning agent's responsibilities will primarily be to review mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems before the start-up of the new high school.

The Naming Rights and Fundraising Sub-Committee has been meeting regularly to lay out fundraising strategies and to begin donor outreach. Because of the timing of construction and the impact it will have on the baseball field in June of 2018, the Naming Rights and Fundraising Sub-Committee is initially focusing on determining fundraising costs associated with the new baseball athletic field.  Dugouts, fencing, bleachers and a scoreboard are all costs associated with the new baseball field and are outlined in the fundraising plan for the new high school.

High School Building Project: Next Steps

posted Mar 14, 2017, 4:31 AM by Ryan Palmer   [ updated Mar 24, 2017, 11:13 AM ]





March 8, 2017


The Mt. Ararat High School Building Committee is pleased to share with the public the next steps and long-term schedule for the Mt. Ararat High School.  The next year will be spent obtaining permits and preparing Construction Documents for the contractors who will compete through a public bidding process in March 2018.  More specifically, the next phases of work are as follows:

·      The architects will prepare a higher level, more detailed plan to incorporate the details of the educational specifications and public feedback from the subcommittees and public meetings which have occurred over the last year.


·      The architects and interior designers will be meeting again with the key stakeholders including teachers, custodians, coaches, and kitchen personnel to finalize space layouts including lighting requirements, material finishes, mechanical and electrical systems, as well as IT and security systems.


·      The architects and engineers will be preparing site permit applications for the Town of Topsham, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and other governmental agencies.


·      The architects and engineers will be preparing an early site construction package for the baseball field and two smaller practice fields so this work can commence in the summer of 2017.


·      The Building Committee and its’ subcommittees will continue to meet monthly throughout the next twelve (12) months to review detailed design, specification and material selections.


·      The Construction Documents will go through a quality assurance/quality control process in January and February 2018 before they go out for public bidding.


·      Construction is expected to start in April 2018 with construction occurring in two phases.  The first phase will be to build the new high school.  The second phase will be to demolish the old high school and build the new track and competition field.


·      The building is expected to be ready for the beginning of school in fall of 2020 with anticipated completion of the track and competition field being the end of year 2020. These are tentative projected dates.

There are still opportunities for volunteers who want to help with the project.  Call the district office if you would like to volunteer or if you are looking for details.

Mark Your Calendar

posted Mar 2, 2017, 12:31 PM by Ryan Palmer   [ updated Mar 2, 2017, 12:33 PM ]

Please mark your calendar for March 7th Referendum on the Mt. Ararat High School project.  Voting is done at all the town polling locations. The Referendum contains two questions: 
  • Question 1 is asking for approval for the entire project (both state funded and additional local only funded items) except a synthetic turf field.  
  • Question 2 asks if the first question passes, if the voters would approve another $649,000 for a synthetic turf competition field. 
     (Please note that Building Committee has determined that crumb rubber infill will NOT be used if the turf field is approved.  Alternative fills are available and will be used.)

It is important that all voters understand the total cost of this project is $60,704,671 if both questions are approved. The project qualifies for state support, with $53,486,792 of the total amount as state approved costs. The project is asking local taxpayers to provide the additional $6,857,347 to pay for items in the project that are not paid for by the State, and that were identified through the numerous meetings for inclusion.

For additional information, you can access the construction website athttp://sites.google.com/a/link75.org/construction  

Thank you,

Brad Smith
Superintendent of Schools

Hearing and Referendum Information

posted Jan 31, 2017, 10:00 AM by Ryan Palmer

The MSAD No. 75 School Board has set March 7, 2017 for a Referendum on the new Mt. Ararat High School Project.  The concept design for the school was approved by the State Board of Education recently, giving us the approval to move forward with this Referendum.
Prior to that, there will be a Hearing, scheduled for Feb. 15, 2017 at 6:00 pm in the High School Commons. The date of Feb. 16, 2017 has been set for a back-up, at the same time and location.
Information regarding the project is available on the district website, http://link75.org or use the construction icon (wrench) https://sites.google.com/a/link75.org/construction/home
We are excited about this project, what it means for our students, staff and communities!   If you have any questions, please feel free to contact my office.
Feb. 15 - Hearing, Mt. Ararat High School Commons, 6:00 pm
Feb. 16 - Hearing Back Up Date, Mt. Ararat High School Commons, 6:00 pm
March 7 - Referendum, voting at all usual town locations
Brad Smith
Superintendent of Schools

Concept Approved-Referendum Date Set

posted Jan 17, 2017, 7:57 AM by Ryan Palmer

The Mt. Ararat High School project was presented to the Maine State Board of Education for Concept Approval and was unanimously approved on Jan. 11, 2017. This is another significant step in the process of building a new high school to serve the students of Bowdoin, Bowdoinham, Harpswell and Topsham.  

This approval allows the School District to submit the project to the voters in a Referendum on March 7, 2017, with voting taking place at each town’s regular polling site. A Public Hearing is scheduled for February 15, 2017in the Mt. Ararat High School Commons at 6 p.m. Should an alternate date become necessary, the hearing will be held on Feb. 16.

Voters Approve Two Questions During 2nd Straw Vote

posted Dec 15, 2016, 11:16 AM by Ryan Palmer

The second Straw Vote on the high school project took place on Wednesday, December 14th at the Hight School Commons.  There were two questions put forth to voters, both overwhelmingly approved by those in attendance.  We had a great turn out, with 143 residents attending and voting in this important step.  I am so grateful to all of those who attended, and last night had several competing events!

The first question asked if the Board should be authorized to build and equip a new high school with the state funds provided, and an additional $6,208,354 local only funding and fundraising with all the items recommended except the turf field.  The items not funded and included in question one involve the additional 6 classrooms, additional gym, extra insulation, etc.  The vote was 138 Yes and 5 No.

Question two asked, if question one was approved, if the Board should proceed with a synthetic turf field as a locally funded part of the project.  As anticipated, some reduction in approval took place with the results 111 Yes and 28 No.

Straw Vote results are not binding, but will be taken to the State Board of Education to show the level of support for our project.  We anticipate that this presentation will occur January 11th.  This will be the second of four approvals sought from the State Board of Education! 

We have a highly involved and dedicated staff, parents and community members on the Building Committee that also includes six subcommittees.  These folks have put in countless hours in meetings, forums, and have done a remarkable job!   We are committed to doing this project well, resulting in a school and fields that our students, staff and community deserve and can be proud of for years to come!

Thank you to all who have participated in the process, including those attending the Straw Vote.


Board Approves MTA Project for Straw Vote

posted Nov 28, 2016, 9:43 AM by Ryan Palmer

November 21, 2016


The MSAD No. 75 Board has approved “in concept” the new Mt. Ararat High School.  In doing so, the Board set Monday, December 12, 2016 as the Second Straw Vote.  The Straw Vote will be held at 6:00 p.m. in the High School Commons.  December 14th, Wednesday, was selected as an alternative date if needed.


This Second Straw Vote provides feedback to the Building Committee, School Board, and State Board of Education about the level of support for the project in the community.  If the Straw Vote is positive, the District will then seek approval from the State Board of Education in January, with a potential Referendum in March.


We have held numerous meetings, including recent forums in each town, to gather community input regarding unfunded components of the school. PDT, the architectural firm designing the school, shared the most recent design, which will be finalized in the next two weeks.  Nearly 100 attendees gave feedback on which items should be included or not in the project, and identified a preferred source of funding.


That information was given to the Building Committee, who presented their recommendations to the Board.  Among the items included for increased local funding are an additional gymnasium, 5 additional classrooms, 1 additional Science room, solar hot water and snow melt at the main entrances.  The total of all unfunded local items recommended was approximately $6.8 million, but final figures are not yet available, and are anticipated to be slightly higher.


The Board also received recommendations to include $121,000 in fundraising for scoreboards at the competition field, baseball field and second gymnasium.   An earlier consideration for an additional 100 seats to the forum (auditorium) have been removed from the project.


The Board voted to approve “in concept” the project as presented, and set the date for the Second Straw Vote as December 12th.  It is important that all community members be aware that costs are estimates and will change as the concept and budget is finalized.


We truly hope for a strong turnout so we can accurately gauge the level of support that exists for these important decisions.  Additional information about the project is available on the district website, which can be accessed through any of the schools as well.


The direct link is: https://sites.google.com/a/link75.org/construction/home

We hope you will take the time to learn about the project and share your thoughts with us at this important step in the process.




Brad Smith

Superintendent of Schools

Latest Recommendations from Building Committee go to School Board on November 17, 2016 for Concept Approval

posted Nov 10, 2016, 5:27 AM by Ryan Palmer

Project UpdateLatest Recommendations from Building Committee go to School Board on November 17, 2016 for Concept Approval


At its November 2, 2016 meeting the Building Committee (BC) supported moving 4 projects into fundraising: The competition field scoreboard, the second gym scoreboard, the baseball field scoreboard and the ropes course.  The items total $121,000.  It is anticipated that additional items for private fundraising may be identified throughout the building project.  This list has been shared with the Naming Rights and Sponsorship Committee and they are eager to get to work on that goal!


The Building Committee recommends removing the additional seats from the Forum; therefore, the Forum will remain at the 250 seats funded by the State. Additionally, the BC recommends additional roof and wall insulation and triple glaze windows up to $250,000 (or less) pending final energy modeling. All other items on the unfunded project list were agreed upon with substantial consensus, if not unanimously, to include in the project at the cost to the local share.

You can view and download the Revised Building Committee Recommendations pdf here.

The Building Committee has also learned that PDT’s refinement of the design resulted in the Maine DOE’s agreement to fund two of the additional classrooms on the unfunded project list. Instead of locally funding seven additional classrooms, the community will now be asked to locally fund one science classroom and five additional classrooms.

The Building Committee will also recommend dates for the Straw Poll in December, with a tentative date to go to the State Board of Education January 11th, and to hold the Referendum in March. You can click here to view/download the DRAFT Timeline to Referendum doc.

Between now and the December Straw Poll, the PDT Architect’s and the District will continue to work with MDOE officials to finalize the concept design and costs.

The continued dedication and enthusiasm of people working on various committees and the excitement as we begin to see graphic representations of the school is evidence that we are achieving what has long been dreamt about!

Public Weighs In at Community Forums

posted Oct 31, 2016, 7:25 AM by Ryan Palmer   [ updated Oct 31, 2016, 7:27 AM ]

Public Weighs In

October 29, 2016

M.S.A.D. No. 75 recently held four town forums to gather community input regarding the Mt. Ararat High School Project.  Those meetings gave nearly 100 community members an opportunity to see the most recent design of the school provided by architectural firm PDT.  The final elements of the design should be completed in the next two weeks.

An explanation of each of the potential unfunded items under consideration by the Building Committee was given by members of the sub-committees including Mike Chonko, Brad Totten, Brant Miller, Geoff Godo and Donna Brunette.  Unfunded aspects are those spaces or features that have been recommended by the Building Committee that will not receive financial support from the Maine Department of Education.  These unfunded features would either be paid for by adding to local taxes or through fundraising efforts and donations.  Unfunded items recommended by the Building Committee are categorized into three areas:  PE/Athletics, High Performance Building, and Academics/Classroom space.  

Those in attendance were able to offer comments or ask questions.  The majority of questions were about athletic aspects, including the recommendation for a turf field.  Some spoke to the question of safety, and conflicting reports about the health impacts of crumb rubber, a fill most commonly used in synthetic turf.  Several students spoke at two of the meetings in support of turf fields.  In response, attendees were told of an important study currently underway by several governmental agencies.  The study, conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is due out by the end of December 2016 in draft form. For more information on the research:  https://www.epa.gov/chemical-research/federal-research-recycled-tire-crumb-used-playing-fields  Additional questions were asked about athletic features including dug-outs, concessions and scoreboards.

There were also questions about the “return on investment” of additional wall and roof insulation, geothermal heating and triple glazed windows. The Department of Education will pay for 50% of the geothermal system, with the balance at the expense of the local district.

Each item under consideration was listed on a ballot, with choices to include the option as a local tax expense, fundraising item, or to not include the item in the building.  Results will be shared with the Building Committee at its November 2nd meeting.

Brad Smith, Superintendent, reminded the community that all numbers are estimates, including projections for tax increases and cost of items.  In addition, meetings with the Department of Education continue which may change some features under consideration.

The project is nearing final design, which will then lead to the second Straw Vote later this fall.  If it appears the project has community support, the project will be proposed to the State Board of Education in anticipation of a Referendum late winter/early spring.

Brad Smith, Superintendent of Schools

M.S.A.D. No. 75

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