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FAQ


Frequently Asked Questions

Contents

  1. 1 Cost/Taxes 
    1. 1.1 What is the cost of the project?
    2. 1.2 How will my taxes be impacted?
    3. 1.3 How are pre-referendum costs to the District reimbursed?
  2. 2 Process
    1. 2.1 What were the results of the referendum?
    2. 2.2 How is the size of the new high school determined?
    3. 2.3 Will the new high school accommodate an increase in student enrollment?
  3. 3 Education
    1. 3.1 If teachers share classrooms, where will advisory take place?
    2. 3.2 If teachers share classrooms, where will teachers meet privately with students?
  4. 4 Athletics/PE 
    1. 4.1 What kind of material will be used for the turf field?
    2. 4.2 Will my student athlete have no home games during construction?
    3. 4.3 Where will student athletes practice and have games during construction?
    4. 4.4 What are the plans for keeping or not keeping the current gym?
  5. 5 Learning Commons/Technology
    1. 5.1 What is a Learning Commons?
    2. 5.2 How do I know you’re looking at the most appropriate future learning spaces?
    3. 5.3 Is the technology we are looking at going to be sustainable and flexible and adaptable for the future?
    4. 5.4 What is a makerspace?
  6. 6 Fundraising
    1. 6.1 What is the fundraising goal for the Naming Rights and Sponsorship Sub Committee?
    2. 6.2 What items will the Naming Rights and Sponsorship Sub Committee be raising money for?
    3. 6.3 How will money be raised for the new high school?
    4. 6.4 How can I or the general public get involved in fundraising for the new high school?
  7. 7 Sustainability/Systems
    1. 7.1 What sustainable features are planned for the building?
    2. 7.2 Why are we considering snowmelt systems at the major building entrances?
    3. 7.3 What do you mean by the building being solar ready?
    4. 7.4 What is a geothermal system and how will it work to heat and cool the new high school?
  8. 8 Misc.
    1. 8.1 In the new high school, where would graduation take place?
    2. 8.2 How can I provide input about the design of the new high school?

 

Cost/Taxes 

What is the cost of the project?

The State of Maine has approved a total construction budget of $60,704,671. The table below identifies the sources of funding for the Project. The District will assume responsibility for a bond with principal and interest payments over 20 years. The largest portion of the Project to be bonded—$53,486,792—qualifies for state support with a local match under Maine’s school funding formula. A smaller portion of the bond— $6,857,347—reflects construction costs that must be funded at the local level without state support. 

How will my taxes be impacted?

The District will assume responsibility for a bond with principal and interest payments over 20 years. The largest portion of the Project to be bonded—$53,486,792—qualifies for state support with a local match under Maine’s school funding formula. A smaller portion of the bond— $6,857,347—reflects construction costs that must be funded at the local level without state support. Based on the current state subsidy formula for approved costs of education, the State of Maine will reimburse the District for the full cost of principal and interest payments for the towns of Bowdoin, Bowdoinham and Topsham. Because the value of property in Harpswell is higher than in the other three towns, the town of Harpswell will have to pay a portion of the cost, currently estimated at $274,000, with the State funding costs above that level. A Harpswell homeowner with a home locally assessed at $425,000 will therefore see an annual property tax increase of about $65 to pay for the additional cost of the Project.  

How are pre-referendum costs to the District reimbursed?

answer coming soon.



 

Process

What were the results of the referendum?


The Referendum was held March 7, 2016. The results of the two questions were as follows:

Question 1: Do you favor authorizing the Board to construct and equip a new high school at a cost not to exceed $60,055,671? Results: 1773 Yes, 392 No Approved by 81.8%


Question 2: If Question 1 is approved, do you favor authorizing the Board to issue additional bonds not to exceed $649,000 in order to include artificial turf instead of grass turf for the competition athletic field? Results: 1246 Yes, 914 No Approved by 57.6%


How is the size of the new high school determined?

The State uses a formula based upon projected student enrollment and square foot allocation. We are currently utilizing a figure of 750 students and 187 square feet per student. We anticipate the Department of Education will fund approximately 140,310 square feet. Any additional space will be a “local only” option. Our current design is at 140,338 square feet. For comparison purposes, our current high school is 156,500 square feet and serves 740 students.

Will the new high school accommodate an increase in student enrollment?

The model used by the Department of Education is based upon classrooms being occupied 85% of the time, noting there are times when classrooms are not occupied by students due to lunch or study halls, or attendance in other areas such as music, art, PE, etc. The Department of Education model therefore does not provide for a classroom for each teacher, but if shared classrooms are used, some growth in enrollment could be accommodated.

It should be noted that the Building Committee is currently considering the advantages and costs of providing a classroom for each teacher. Doing so would allow for much greater increase in student enrollment, and greater flexibility in the use of space.



Education


If teachers share classrooms, where will advisory take place?

Advisory is a program where a small number of students (10-12) are assigned to an individual teacher. “Advisory class” meets daily. Connections, important interactions and lessons take place in Advisory. In a shared classroom model, many Advisory classes would be held in non-classroom areas.

If teachers share classrooms, where will teachers meet privately with students?

The design of the high school construction project includes six additional classrooms and based on the current enrollment projections this allows for each teacher to have an assigned individual classroom space. If the enrollment numbers increase, there may be a need to plan for shared use of classroom spaces. If there is a need to implement a shared classroom model, faculty areas would be used to house desks, files, and storage spaces for teachers sharing classrooms. Classrooms, when available, would still be used for meeting privately with students; faculty spaces, conference rooms, and other designated spaces in the building would be made available to support private meetings.




Athletics/PE 

What kind of material will be used for the turf field?

The Building Committee and School Board have voted to avoid using crumb rubber as a fill. Because of the potential concern for impact to health, the fill will be selected at a later date. Alternatives to crumb rubber (ground up used tires) include two types of synthetic rubber: EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) and TPE (Thermo Plastic Elastomer). There is also an Organic fill (cork or coconut shell) and Nike Grind (recycled product). 


Will my student athlete have no home games during construction?

Yes and No. It depends upon the sport.

During the initial planning of the project, the Building Committee heard feedback from local community members at a variety of meetings, including a public forum held in each town. It was clear that allowing students to remain in the present building throughout construction was highly important, and that students’ education not be impacted by being housed in temporary buildings.

As a result, the new school will be built on the current competition field/track. Those sports that currently utilize those facilities will be impacted. Plans are being developed to minimize that impact where possible. Sports that do not use those facilities, will not be impacted, and will continue to have practices and games as they do currently.


Where will student athletes practice and have games during construction?

As indicated above, it depends upon the sport. As plans are developed, they will posted on the high school website at http://mta.link75.org


What are the plans for keeping or not keeping the current gym?

The current gymnasium will remain during construction, but will then be demolished to provide room for the new athletic fields and track, along with parking. While the Building Committee initially considered the advantage of keeping the gym, the cost to update it and improve systems to operate it as a “stand alone” building were prohibitive. Instead, the Building Committee and School Board determined that planning for additional gym space at local cost in the new school would be more economical and advantageous. 

 


Learning Commons/Technology


What is a Learning Commons?

A Learning Commons is a space for the school community to come together in any sort of communication, learning, research, technological, or recreational way. Mt. Ararat it is modeled after college level learning commons which combines library services and technology services. The learning commons is also a space to gather groups for a variety of reasons and the varied sizes and designs of spaces meet the needs of different groups (student study groups, classes engaged in research, after school clubs, performances, group projects, individual study, or large group presentations.

How do I know you’re looking at the most appropriate future learning spaces?

Our knowledgeable staff and community subcommittee members have been touring secondary and post-secondary learning commons spaces as well as technology hubs and will continue to to do so. A technology consultant out of Boston has been hired to help members of this committee and high school staff understand the many options, future technology, available for classrooms to support teaching and learning for students of all abilities. The consultant and members of the subcommittee will also be working with future users from the middle school and discussing technology options with staff and faculty groups at the high school to gather input for design of learning spaces.

Is the technology we are looking at going to be sustainable and flexible and adaptable for the future?

The technology will be as flexible and sustainable as possible. Though the most current technology will be explored. No one knows the future of technology, but the plan is to develop spaces in the new building so they are useable now and adaptable in the future.

What is a makerspace?

A makerspace is a place for students and staff to create and/or explore interests in design, engineering, art, science, or technology. Materials commonly available in a makerspace include such things as Legos, video equipment and a green screen, and other tools for innovation. Makerspaces offer users the opportunity to apply research through production of a product or development of an idea.

 

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Fundraising



What is the fundraising goal for the Naming Rights and Sponsorship Sub Committee?

As noted in Voter Referendum Question #1 passed on March 7, 2017, the goal of the Committee is to raise $201,780. The Committee also recognizes that additional costs may arise that warrant fundraising efforts.

What items will the Naming Rights and Sponsorship Sub Committee be raising money for?

The Building Committee and School Board approved the following list of items to be included in the project but funded privately: Baseball Dugouts, Baseball Scoreboard, Softball Dugouts, Competition Field Scoreboard, Concession Equipment, Ropes Course, non-crumb rubber fill for turf field. Additional items may include Hall of Honors, baseball fence, and bleachers for baseball and softball fields.

How will money be raised for the new high school?

The Naming Rights and Sponsorship (Fundraising) Sub Committee plans to raise funds by soliciting donors, securing in-kind materials and services, offering sponsorship opportunities and selling advertisements on signs and banners located in the athletic complex.

How can I or the general public get involved in fundraising for the new high school?

Please contact the Superintendent’s Office at 729-9961 if you are interested in becoming involved in fundraising efforts. The Naming Rights and Sponsorship Committee is planning for a public campaign with various special events designed to engage community members. The initial kick-off event is tentatively scheduled for the Spring of 2018. Many fundraising ideas have come forth and community involvement in any fundraising is welcome.


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Sustainability/Systems

What sustainable features are planned for the building?

Building construction and operations can have significant impact on the environment, society, and the economy. The field of sustainable construction design seeks to balance the needs of these areas by using an integrated approach to create commonsense design solutions and to reduce the amount of resources required like energy, water, and raw materials. Some of the sustainable feature that are being incorporated into the project include:

1. Increased amount of roof and wall insulation.  The amount was calculated to provide a better long term efficiency for a reasonable up front cost and payback period.

2. High performance window glazing’s are being applied to the locations that make the most economic and environmental sense.

3. Low VOC products.

4. Solar thermal water heating.




Why are we considering snowmelt systems at the major building entrances?


Snow melt systems prevent the build-up of snow and ice even during a storm event. It improves slip safety as well as reduces the labor of shoveling and spreading salt/sand.  By eliminating the use of salt/sand we reduce the deterioration of concrete/asphalt walkways outside of the building as well as the floor finishes in the school.  By reducing the tracked in debris, this contributes to an overall improvement of indoor air quality.


What do you mean by the building being solar ready?

The new high school project is being designed to accommodate PV panels on the roof.  Photo voltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight to electricity and can be used directly by the building or can be distributed back into the electrical grid.  The design will include enough building structure to carry the added weight of the panels as well as space for electrical gear to support the array. The Building Systems and Sustainability Sub-Committees have been exploring a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), https://www.epa.gov/greenpower/solar-power-purchase-agreements, through a 3rd party to help reduce the up-front first costs. Preliminary designs indicate that the roof will support a 350 kW – 500 kW array.

 

 

What is a geothermal system and how will it work to heat and cool the new high school?

Water will circulate from the building to a series of wells drilled into the soil below the parking lot adjacent to the school.  This water will utilize the relatively constant ground temperature to provide a cooling and heating source for the building.  The water from the ground loop will flow through heat pumps within the building to produce fluid temperatures that are conducive to heating and cooling the building.  For a more detailed explanation click on the link here: (add Extended A to the target location of this link).

 

Extended Answer:  When people think of geothermal systems, often times they associate it with hot springs such as those in the Pacific northwest of the US, Iceland and other areas in the world where warm water or steam is emitted from the heat of the earth’s core.  Old Faithful is an example of this type of geothermal energy.  The geothermal system planned for the MTA High School is of a different variety as we would have to drill several thousand feet below the surface of the earth in Topsham to tap into temperatures this warm.  Ground temperatures close to the surface in this area typically run between 45 and 50 degrees year around once you get deeper than 8-10 feet and the ground in this type of geothermal system is utilized more like a battery that instead of storing electrical energy stores thermal (heat) energy.  The system planned is comprised of series of wells called ‘bores’ that are 400-500 foot deep vertical 6” diameter holes spaced 20 feet on a grid and are created by residential well drilling equipment.  The bores are fitted with plastic pipe that has a U-bend fitted at the bottom and then the bores are filled with a cement like material called bentonite that flows to fill the voids between the plastic pipe and bore walls.  Preliminary estimates suggest that it will take approximately 140-160 of these bores to provide enough thermal storage capacity for the high school building.  The bore field is planned to be located beneath the parking lots.  The plastic tubing loops from each bore are all connected to the common location inside the building and this completes what is termed a ‘closed’ geothermal system as no ground water is extracted from the ground in this system.  A mixture of water and food grade antifreeze fills the plastic pipes and is pumped to absorb or reject heat from the building to the ground ‘heat exchanger’.  The fluid from the ground loop is then pumped to a series of heat pumps in the building that are used to produce warm or cold water to heat the building in the winter and cool the building in the summer.  Heat pumps are basically a refrigeration system that works on the same principal as our home refrigerators except that they are capable of ‘pumping’ heat in two directions.  Our home refrigerators are capable of ‘pumping’ heat in only one direction, from inside the unit to the room outside.  If our home refrigerators were configured as a heat pump, we would be able to warm the inside of the unit by ‘pumping’ heat from the room into the unit (and cooling the room).  With the heat pumps connected to the ground heat exchanger, the system will store heat in the ground in warm weather when the building is being cooled and then extract this heat in cold weather to heat the building.





Misc.

In the new high school, where would graduation take place?

Mt. Ararat has a long tradition of holding graduation outside, at the competition field, if weather allows. During inclement weather, graduation has been held in the gymnasium. Outside graduation allows more guests to attend, and is better acoustically. In the new school, we have gym space comparable to our current gymnasium. Technology could also be used for indoor graduation that could broadcast the ceremony to other areas in the school, such as the forum (small auditorium) or dining commons. 
 

How can I provide input about the design of the new high school?

We encourage input from community members regarding the project. In the past, community members have had many opportunities to express opinions at meetings specifically designed to gather input, including Public Forums held in each town last fall, the first Straw Poll held January 21, 2016, and Public Forums held in the summer and fall of 2016. In addition, Building Committee meetings and subcommittee meetings are open to the public and provide a designated time for comment. Those meeting schedules can be found on the project website at http://construction.link75.org/ which also includes a place to provide comments. The public is invited to follow the project via Twitter, Facebook, or through Remind, all of which provide notification whenever updates are posted to the website. To learn about any upcoming forums or meetings, please visit the construction website at http://construction.link75.org/.



 

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