BEC talks community meetings

Mon, 06/27/2022 - 12:00pm

    Lavallee Brensinger Architects (LBPA) presented more information on the Community School District campus development project and proposed dates for community engagement sessions June 22. The first community meeting, July 14, will cover the BEC's work to date and will include tours of the schools to show the elements of the conditions reports. The second and third community meetings will gather feedback and direction on what action to take for the schools: update structures or build a new high school with elementary school renovations and an addition.

    BEC members were concerned progress and some decisions made by their committee have not yet passed the CSD school committee and Board of Trustees. The BEC has two members from each of the boards: trustees Chair Steve Lorrain, trustee Troy Lewis, school committee Chair Peggy Splaine, and committee member Abby Jones. Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 Superintendent Robert Kahler and Director of Facilities and Maintenance Dave Benner are also on the board.

    School committee member Ruth Macy said that stating progress is being reviewed and supported by the full boards and by the BEC will assure the public the CSD is wisely using the $2.5 million in donations for campus development planning. Macy said she is also concerned presenting just two options makes it seem there is not much choice one way or another.

    LBPA’s Joe Britton and Lance Whitehead said since the July 14 meeting will just cover progress and will not ask for feedback on anything the boards have not reviewed, a joint meeting between boards could fall before or after that date. Part of the joint meeting will cover LBPA’s condensing of dozens of options down to a handful and the BEC’s process for narrowing the field to two options. Whitehead said LBPA can, at the joint meeting, recap BEC decisions and why and how they were made.

    “If the boards feel the (BEC) made a heavily wrong decision – and I'd be shocked if they did – we're going to be there to be able to talk through that,” said Whitehead. “We've definitely looked at dozens of options. We distilled it down to three … plus the do-nothing option … and eventually the partial-reno/partial-add option was (dropped).”

    The school committee and trustees agreed to a joint-meeting July 19 to review BEC progress and the school charter. However, when it was suggested meeting dates get pushed back, Lorrain was opposed.

    “I've been asking for two months, now, for the two boards to sit down and have a talk ... I've gotten zip, nothing, nada. 'Mind your own business, Steve.' That's what I've gotten ... I'm exhausted with it. Everytime we have a meeting, we review the last meeting over the (previous) meeting just to plan and have to pay for another meeting. We have to make decisions and they have to be firm and that's what has to be done.”

    Lewis concurred. He said if the BEC puts off narrowing options down or tabling priorities, LBPA could be “going in five different directions” without the feedback it needs for engineers and designers to make progress.

    Population study corrections are still in the works; preliminary numbers still show a decline of the elementary and middle school population and a slight increase in high school population by 2032, said Britton. Projections show BRES numbers falling from 318 to 251, BRHS rising from 170 to 188 and the room for error is +/-3%.

    Pitting those numbers against building capacity standards, LBPA found one 800 square foot classroom and one 600 square foot classroom could be dropped from the schematic. However, Whitehead said removing learning space could limit educational programming especially for Boothbay Region High School which holds many electives for the number of students it has. “(It’s) one of the great benefits of your school system … Right now, if only a handful of kids sign up for an elective, teachers are more than willing to teach the class. In the future, if you start cutting classrooms, you're going to have to start forcing the hand and saying we don't have the room to put you in. If 10 kids don't sign up, you don't teach the class.”

    Before cutting classrooms, Whitehead said he wants to go back to school administrators and ask if it will affect programming. Then, the board can consider that in its decision.

    The BEC also provided feedback to LBPA on wording for informational boards to be posted around the towns ahead of meetings. The first boards should be out by July 11, said Britton.

    The first community presentation meeting is July 14 and will feature a building tour. The school committee and trustees’ joint meeting is July 19. Neither panel will hold separate regular meetings in July. The school committee will meet Aug. 2;  trustees, Aug. 9. All meetings will be at 5:15 p.m. in the Boothbay Region High School library.

    To see meeting dates, agendas, minutes and documents, go to:

    For the latest information, including the concept design package and existing conditions report, visit