South Portland has hired two firms to review the proposal to renovate South Portland High School.

Bob Howe of HKTA/Architects and Tom Frederick of Wright-Ryan Construction Inc., both of Portland, will scrutinize the $47.3 million plan developed by the school department’s consultant, Harriman Associates.

The firms are expected to deliver their report by Aug. 10, in time to put the school project on the November ballot, if the City Council decides to do so.

The review is expected to cost less than $10,000. The city’s contract with HKTA/Architects is not to exceed $5,000. Wright-Ryan will charge $95 per hour.

City officials want an independent review of the high school project before asking voters to borrow money for it. They hope to avoid a repeat of the crushing defeat of a more expensive proposal in 2007. a 3-to-1 ratio, voters rejected that plan, which called for borrowing $56 million.

The new plan is scaled back from the earlier version. It excludes the artificial turf field and the second gym featured in the earlier version. The total footprint is 29,000 square feet smaller. The project would require borrowing $44.2 million.

“I’d like to make sure we have every possible assurance that this is the most efficient, best plan for the high school before we bring it for another vote. I don’t want to see it lose again,” said Councilor Jim Hughes.

The review will:

Analyze the cost of the project.

Examine the timeline and phasing of the construction.

Determine whether the project will meet state and accreditation standards.

Compare the proposal with similar school projects in Maine.

Provide an opinion on Harriman Associates’ plan, along with changes that should be made.

City Councilor Rosemarie De Angelis raised concerns about whether the review will be seen as independent, given that Portland firms are doing it and school department representatives were at a meeting about the review with municipal officials.

“If the results come out and say it’s perfectly reasonable, I don’t think there’s going to be any faith in it because I think it’s already been muddied by that process,” she said. “If it comes back with some challenges and questions, maybe there will be some faith in it.”

City Manager James Gailey said it made sense to use local firms because of the deadline, the added cost of travel and coordination with an out-of-state firm, and the need for the firm to be knowledgeable about Maine’s school construction laws.

Gailey said school board Vice Chairman Ralph Baxter Jr. and Superintendent Suzanne Godin — members of South Portland’s Secondary School Facilities Committee — were at an initial meeting to determine the scope of the review. Baxter and Godin expanded the scope by suggesting that the timeline and phasing of the construction be included.

Gailey said he wanted to avoid a situation in which school officials didn’t have “buy-in” from the onset and then might criticize the City Council if they weren’t happy with the review.

Godin was at another meeting with school and city consultants, about logistics and timing, Gailey said. He said school officials have now stepped aside.

“It is 100 percent the city’s review of the plan,” he said.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

[email protected]