Boothbay-Boothbay Harbor Community School District Building Exploratory Committee (BEC) members voiced concern Sept. 29 over plans to evaluate the cost of fixing Boothbay Region Elementary and High School buildings. Architectural firm Lavallee Brensinger (LBPA) will assess the buildings’ basic maintenance needs while a company unrelated to LBPA estimates the cost. Company names included Miyacoda Consulting of Raynham, Massachusetts who estimates $71,000 for its service; PM&C of Hingham, Massachusetts, $77,500; and Preferred Construction Management of Portland, $68,380.
“I'm confused because I don't think that's what the committee was asking for,” CSD committee Vice Chair Peggy Splaine said over Zoom.
Committee member Ruth Macy agreed and said committee members, trustees and the public understood a third party company would assess the schools’ needs to compare with LBPA’s findings and estimate what those needs would cost. A second opinion is important for public buy-in because it shows LBPA is providing solutions for problems that do exist, she said. “Part of what we're selling with this proposal is there are so many problems that a rebuild or redesign is a good option and cost effective over time.”
LBPA’s Lance Whitehead said identifying those problems and estimating cost are still in LBPA’s part of the project because the firm also has to do its due diligence. “But you could do a peer review on our existing assessment from another firm.”
Alternative Organizational Structure (AOS) 98 Superintendent Robert Kahler said he spoke with one of the firms about this possibility, but that service was not included in the third party’s scope, only cost estimates based on LBPA's findings. “I definitely can contact these firms (for costs) to do that peer review.”
CSD Committee member Abby Jones joined the BEC after CSD Committee Chair Stephanie Hawke stepped down due to other commitments. Jones and Trustees Chair Steve Lorrain agreed to co-chair a community involvement committee and Facilities Director Dave Benner will chair a buildings and grounds committee.
Alumni parent Laurie Perkins said it seems that due to the pandemic and low turnout to informational sessions, LBPA did not succeed at reaching the public. Perkins said issues connecting with the public might be resolved by reaching out to families through the students, with information and surveys put together by students. The idea of giving students some of that responsibility is not just because administrators and board members are so busy dealing with the pandemic, but because it involves students in the future of the schools in a meaningful and helpful way, she said.
“Students are invested because they're here … If you started off a survey with something that's affecting every kid in every family, right now, maybe you get more feedback. And if we get a system in place and have reactions to it, by the time you ask things like 'What building do we want to build?' or 'What shape or remodeling?' … we would redesign the buildings differently … If we get a system where people are buying in, whatever you roll out (will have support).”
Parent and Boothbay Harbor Select Board Vice Chair Tricia Warren said “wearing her parent hat” has her hoping the BEC and LBPA will focus on education above all else. That means a better rounded post-secondary preparation for skilled trades, college and jumping right into the workforce, she said.
However, Warren said her “selectman’s hat” has her focusing on the enormous cost of remodeling or building a new school. She said the BEC needs to keep in mind, Boothbay Harbor is about to perform a revaluation which means taxpayers are aware their taxes have a good chance of changing. Boothbay recently underwent a revaluation as well.
“(That) $50 million pricetag is a hefty load to bear. That's something we always have to keep in mind (and) I do really want to see the academia being the forefront of the decisions that are being made in the build whether it be a full facility or a partial facility we're working on.”