April 06, 2020

SAD 46 directors consider school plans

DEXTER – SAD 46 directors have been told repeatedly by parents that they want the proposed new kindergarten-through-grade-eight school constructed in a way that makes it feel like a small school, SAD 46 Superintendent Kevin Jordan said Wednesday.

While that’s no small feat, directors and the district’s architect, Joe Hemes of Stephen Blatt Architects of Portland, are leaning toward a two-story steel building in which pupils will be housed in classrooms on separate wings.

The building is proposed to have a slightly sloped roof with a rubber membrane, which is less expensive than a shingled roof.

“It’s a puzzle and you’re starting with all these pieces and you have to put it together,” Hemes said Wednesday of the current concept design.

The proposal is to have classrooms on the first floor with one wing dedicated to kindergarten and possibly pre-kindergarten pupils, and another wing for pupils in grades one and two. An ad hoc committee is studying whether the district should serve pre-kindergarten pupils.

Similar wings on the second floor would house grades three and four and grades seven and eight. The proposal is to house grades five and six in classrooms off the second-story wings.

The school will incorporate the “neighborhood school” design concept, with separate primary and middle school learning centers and separate entrances, according to Hemes.

The proposal is to locate two cafeterias and a central kitchen, the gymnasium and band room off to one side of the building, away from the classrooms. This would allow public access to events without the need to enter the actual classroom section.

The construction of an energy-efficient school is essentially guaranteed by the state since the project was placed on the Department of Education’s priority list for funding, but local residents must give it final approval.

A straw vote will be held in the district on the concept design once it has been completed, and a referendum vote likely will be conducted in January on the overall project.

The new school proposed off the Fern Road is estimated to cost $30 million. The Exeter, Garland and Dexter primary schools, the Dexter Middle School and two administrative offices in the downtown area will be closed and consolidated into the new building.

SAD 46 board chairman John Parola said a committee of board members has met with Dexter municipal officials and plans to meet with town officials in each of the other communities to work together to determine the best use of the buildings.

The middle and primary school property, donated by the Abbott family, at one time was restricted to use for educational purposes, but the covenant carrying that restriction was removed in 1971.

Therefore, there are no restrictions on any of the buildings to be vacated, according to Parola.

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