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by Jessica Brophy
At the monthly meeting of the Community School District school board on Tuesday, September 4, superintendent Mark Jenkins reported the bids received for the central office project were “significantly over budget.”
The project includes remodeling part of the high school into a suite of offices to house Union 76’s superintendent, special services director and other staff. Currently, the central office is housed in a rented property in Sargentville. The remodeling project was initiated by the CSD board in late 2011 as a way to save money for the CSD in the long-term. Housing the central office in the high school would save the CSD about $14,000 per year, according to projections by former superintendent Robert Webster. Webster projected renovation costs to be between $45,000 and $50,000. The CSD is responsible for renovation costs.
Sedgwick and Brooklin, the other towns in Union 76, would each pay $1,000 per year for rent for the space. The Union 76 board approved the move of the central office to the high school in June of this year.
Architect Mike Sealander was hired to design the offices, and that design was sent out to bid. Between $60,000 and $70,000 has been identified in this year’s budget for the project. Jenkins said there were only two bids, and they came in roughly twice as expensive as the $60-$70,000 identified for the project.
Sealander attended the September 4 meeting and discussed with the board potential reasons for the high bids, and solutions to the situation. First, said Sealander, there are fewer contractors along the coast to bid on the project, unlike some of the projects his firm has overseen in areas like Bangor. The second reason is the design calls for more than a gut and remodel, including moving doors, windows and walls to maximize the space, said Sealander. Things like built-in shelving and updating a parking area are elements that likely contributed to the “overage” on the bid, he continued.
Sealander recommended the board see what was available for funds, remove the “atypical portions” of the specifications and “bare bones” the project for this year. With modified specifications, the project could then be put back out to bid. Sealander suggested putting off some parts of the project until the following fiscal year. The board agreed the facilities committee would continue to work on the issue.
In other business, student representative Sarah Wilson asked what kind of permission might be needed to allow the privilege ladder, designed by the student council to reward students for good behavior and grades, to be instated in the school. At the August board meeting, the school board had voted to approve the student handbook for the high school on the condition the privilege ladder was not included. One of the primary controversies of the ladder was the privilege of allowing students to leave the school campus and walk across the street to The Galley. Several board members expressed concerns about student safety. Other board members said they were not comfortable signing off on the ladder as part of the handbook (which represents board-approved policies), as the board had not been consulted about the privilege ladder.
Wilson said the student council had recommended students who would walk across the street have signed parental permission, which is currently required for students who drive themselves to or from school. Wilson said driving is “statistically much more dangerous” than crossing the street, and asked what other measures the board would like to see.
Board member Vicki Zelnick recommended the student council work with the superintendent and principal Todd West to come up with a plan to sufficiently address safety and liability issues.
The board also approved the hire of Elizabeth Kyzer as music teacher and Brian Adams as the half-time gifted and talented teacher (5-0). The search committee is still seeking a half-time library coordinator.
The school board’s next meeting will be Tuesday, October 2, at 5:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.