Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor CSD

CSD campus development, public buy-in a concern

Thu, 08/04/2022 - 8:45am

    Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Community School District trustees discussed updates Aug. 2 about the ongoing campus development planning. Boothbay Harbor resident Lauri Perkins said confidence in the project will only improve if trustees can throw robust endorsement behind whatever plan goes to referendum. While trustees said they are hearing neither support for nor opposition to the project, Perkins said the general feel from those she has talked to is that “nobody wants this.”

    “I just hate to see this whole thing get shot down because of this massive amount of money and it's a building everyone is saying is way too big for the population … It really comes down to what you guys really think makes sense. It's really going to be you guys saying, 'Yes, we should do this’ … I just don't know where we're at right now and where we're going is not going to get it done. I'm afraid it's going to be a big 'X' and no one's going to care.”

    Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 Superintendent Robert Kahler said the BEC has only recently had order of magnitude costs replaced by more accurate costs and a more detailed concept. “It's still not nailed down. There's still flexibility, but like anything else, it's becoming more and more refined as we go,” he said. Trustee Richard Hallinan agreed, but like most of the public and not being on the BEC, he said he is getting his information in bits and pieces. Conclusions cannot be drawn from the recent presentation because the details still need to be refined, he said.

    CSD committee member and BEC co-chair Abby Jones said the BEC needs to work better on communicating the costs of existing building renovations rather than those of a new building. Projected costs for renovations are $35-$40 million over 20 years as opposed to the $77 million for a building concept that has not yet been examined more closely by the BEC and general public.

    Trustees Chair and BEC co-chair Steve Lorrain said voters need to know the choice for how the CSD deals with the existing issues is entirely up to them. Choices range from “build new” to “pay as you go,” but in a building over 65 years old, it is going to be a long road to fix things $10,000 at a time, he said.

    “It's not insulated, oil prices are going to be who knows what, the teachers are complaining there's not enough outlets, there's no air conditioning, the whole ventilation system needs to be reworked, there's asbestos in the building, there's lead in the building, there's transformers in the basement,” said Lorrain. “The roof at the elementary school? Next year we'll just requisition a bunch of ponchos and give ponchos to the kids every time it rains. The cost of not doing something might be greater than the cost of building new.”

    Now at the beginning of a capital campaign through Boothbay Region Education Foundation, the CSD must ensure the plan residents get at the voting booth is worth the cost and matches students’ needs, said Perkins. Kahler said the CSD should never assume donations will be a game-changer, but he has still had calls from potential donors who have offered to help once the CSD has settled on a plan.

    Jones said community members have been critical of fundraising because they feel it lacks transparency, but many of the donors have asked to remain anonymous. As much as donors should see public buy-in for the project, the community needs to see that donors are in support of the schools with no strings attached, she said. Kahler said donations to BREF are unconditional and belong to the foundation after receipt per its charter. However, that is why a second account will likely be made to return funds to donors should the plan be voted down, he said.

    Said Jones, “If they're supporting our public education and we're being honest with the dollars we receive as far as (accounting) … the way I see it is it's hard to say no … We have to keep communicating the educational benefits … Kids learn better when rooms are the appropriate temperature, if the science lab is up to 21st century learning.”

    AOS 98 Director of Facilities Dave Benner said workers from Haskell and Hall spent two days recaulking the interior of all the south-facing windows in Boothbay Region Elementary School. Hussey Seating Company recently serviced gym seating, basketball backboards apparatuses and replaced the BRES mechanical wall in the gymnasium with an electric controlled vinyl wall. Benner said the gym partition has been a problem since his first day working for the CSD over 20 years ago.

    Benner also said maintenance was supposed to install a hanging swing for the special education department, but a pinhole leak in the dry sprinkler system was detected by custodian Tom Dewey after ceiling tiles were removed.

    The BEC will hold a second community meeting 5:15 p.m. Aug. 10 in the BRHS library.