KENNEBUNK — Officials from Regional School Unit 21 and the Wells-Ogunquit Community School District are expected to meet Thursday to discuss the feasibility of creating a regional high school.

Wells-Ogunquit Superintendent Elaine Tomaszewski said the suggestion has been made because her district realizes its need to renovate or rebuild Wells High School and RSU 21 is investigating renovation options for Kennebunk High.

Selectmen from Wells, Ogunquit, Arundel, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport, as well as representatives from the two districts’ school boards, have met to discuss the pros and cons of a regional high school. Thursday’s meeting will focus on a proposal to add a third level onto Kennebunk High School to accommodate all of the students, as well as the costs and governing structure, Tomaszewski said.

“We’ll look at that Thursday and take recommendations to bring back to each of our respective (school) boards,” she said.

With about 800 students at Kennebunk High, many classes are now being held in portable classrooms, said RSU 21 Superintendent Andrew Dolloff. Early estimates show renovations that would eliminate portable classrooms could cost the district $32 million to $46 million.

The regional high school would have to accommodate at least 1,200 students. Dolloff said Harriman Associates, the architectural firm the district is using for its renovation plans, is looking at the feasibility of adding a third floor to the school.

“It just doesn’t seem our site is big enough for a 1,200-student high school unless we build up. If we build out, we’re taking away from parking and field space,” Dolloff said.

While the districts are still in the early stages of conversation and the cost has not been determined, Dolloff and Tomaszewski see benefits in a regional high school. They said there would be increased opportunities for educational programming.

The idea of cost savings was also discussed, but Tomaszewski said, “If your primary reason is cost savings, you’re going into this for the wrong reason. It should be to improve programming for all our students in town.”

Concerns that have been raised in past discussions include losing the identity of the individual towns and schools.

“Many people chose Maine for the schools that they have, and that they are smaller in size, with more of a community feel,” which may be lost if the high school is regionalized, Dolloff said.

Thursday’s meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. at Kennebunk Elementary School on Alewive Road.

 

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at: [email protected]