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Mt. Ararat High School Project Update January 31, 2015

posted Feb 3, 2015, 7:02 AM by Ryan Palmer   [ updated Feb 12, 2015, 6:36 AM ]

The M.S.A.D. No. 75 Board of Directors approved membership of two important committees associated with the high school project.  In doing so, the Board selected four Board members, one from each town, who will serve on both the Designer Selection Committee (selecting the architect for our project) and the Building Committee (guides work throughout the entire project).  Those members are:  Julie Booty, David Johnson, Scott McKernan, and Kim Totten.  Also serving on both committees will be Donna Brunette (high school principal); Chris Shaw (Facilities Director); and Brad Smith (Superintendent).


In addition to the Board and administrators identified above, the Designer Selection Committee (DSC) also includes parent/community representative Tom Saucier, and teacher Sarah Cowperthwaite.  As a part of any State-funded school project, a representative from the State of Maine Bureau of General Services is assigned to work with the District.  Our representative is Valerie Chiang, who is a licensed architect, and happens to reside in Bowdoinham.  She has participated in all meetings to date and is a valuable resource to the Committee.


The Committee received qualifications proposals from six architectural firms.  After reviewing those, the DSC selected four firms to interview on February 3, 2015 and will rank those firms.  Reference checks and visit to previous project(s) completed by the top firm will be conducted.  That firm will be invited back for a second interview, and pending successful negotiations, will be presented to the Board of Directors for approval.  Once the architect is selected, the work of the DSC is complete.


The Building Committee, composed of the seven core members from the Board and administration, will include Business Manger Steve Dyer.  Mike Chonko and John Hodge will serve as parent/community representatives. Krista Chase and Matt Cook, teachers at Mt. Ararat High School, will serve on the Committee, as will one student yet to be selected.  This committee will work with the architect throughout the project, which is expected to take four to five years to complete.


Once approved by the Board, likely in March, the architect will then begin a study of the current Mt. Ararat facility and site.  The study will consider the needs of the school and the Educational Specifications that will be created by various constituencies including students, faculty, staff, administration, parents, community members and local officials. The Maine State Board of Education describes the Educational Specifications as “the means by which a school administrative unit describes its educational goals and activities, and the interrelationships between those educational goals and activities and their associated spaces that need to be provided in a proposed new or renovated school facility.” 


The Department of Education provides information about this, and other aspects of school capital projects at: http://www.maine.gov/doe/facilities/construction/index.html. As indicated in Public School Standards and Guidelines for School Construction & Major Renovation Projects, “It has become very evident that although the State has declining enrollments, there is still an extensive need for new and renovated school facilities. Many of the older schools in Maine do not meet the program needs of today’s complex curricula. The older schools tend to be costly to maintain, very energy inefficient, and non-code-compliant. There are also many safety issues within and outside of older school buildings.”  The Department of Education encourages high performance schools, and cites multiple benefits of such schools including, “improved student performance, increased student health, reduced student absentee rates, and greater staff satisfaction.”  These schools provide green spaces, open spaces, and shared community spaces in the building.  Reusing and recycling materials is emphasized during construction. “High Performance schools are designed to conserve natural resources, save money, and improve the overall health and well-being of students, staff and community.”  (p.4)


As the project moves forward, there will be multiple opportunities for community input and involvement.  These will likely include visioning meetings, forums, and meetings held on specific topics.  Sub-committees will provide more opportunity for involvement and will formed as needs arise. 


Bradley V. Smith

Superintendent of Schools