Lavallee Brensinger Architects gave an “existing conditions preview” on Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Community School District buildings to the CSD Building Exploratory Committee Oct. 27. The preview comes ahead of a nearly finished and more detailed report on the state of the buildings and costs associated with the firm’s recommended corrections, a step the BEC requested in its mandate to determine the future of the schools.
LBPA’s Lance Whitehead and Joe Britton III said the project is in the middle of the first step, project discovery and conceptual design. This includes site investigation, engagement of educators, defining curriculum and learning objectives, educational and architectural visioning, examining renovation versus new-build scenarios, community engagement, sustainability goals and design concepts.
“We don't actually start creating solutions until May, so we've got lots of time to do a bunch of analysis before we start putting pen to paper and say this is what we think should be done, this is the solution,” said Whitehead.
Britton said each school will have its own sub-report including architecture interior and exterior, life safety, engineering, structural and mechanical, electrical and plumbing, and safety and security. Some of the issues include the Boothbay Region Elementary School gym ingress and egress not being up to code for large capacity gatherings and several moisture and rusting issues in the building; Boothbay Region High School’s undersized classrooms, several structural cracks, electrical safety issues, window and door issues and lack of natural light.
“I picked on kind of one hot topic for each category. The spreadsheet will go into multiple items for each category as well,” Britton said.
A handicap-accessible bathroom would be a high priority in LBPA’s recommendations, Whitehead said as an example; however, the CSD might not find that as compelling which is why the BEC will need to review the findings at the next meeting to better determine the scope and cost of maintaining the schools. Whitehead said some issues will need attention at some point even if it means creating a schedule for replacement or correction. “For others, you'll have to make the decision, 'Are we renovating or are we not renovating?'”
BEC members agreed to go through the full report at the next meeting to prioritize LBPA's findings and that the CSD committee and board of trustees should review the collaboration jointly in a future meeting.
Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 Superintendent Robert Kahler said cost estimates for a third party buildings and grounds assessment parallel to LBPA’s should be in within the next week. “A lot of companies go by the initial inspection by the architects and engineers, so they don't do their own on site (assessment). So, it took a while to find a company that would do that. Typically doing estimates is tied to the potential for future work, but I explained that's not the case here.”
Part of project discovery and conceptual design is engaging the schools’ teaching and building staff, students, parents and wider community. BRHS Principal Tricia Campbell said as students and community groups slowly come together safely during the pandemic, teaching staff are already discussing the CSD’s future during professional days in preparation for sharing ideas and concerns.
“So where are we as a school community, where do we want to go, what's our vision? In education we tend to identify the goal and work backwards (to) 'How do we get there?' … When students work through our system and they graduate, what skills do we want them to have to be ready for their experiences beyond school?”
The BEC wants to fill out community outreach and buildings and grounds subcommittees and launch another group focusing on curriculum, said Kahler. The CSD Building Exploratory Project webpage links to a survey for those interested in joining one of the groups or any potential group including volunteer coordination, event volunteering, sustainability, fundraising, grant writing and a blank field for other focuses not listed.
Whitehead announced Sebago Technics will be on the CSD campus in the coming weeks for two days of site surveying the outside of the buildings, the grounds and wetlands.