March 6, 2013

Council endorses $17 million Freeport High renovations

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

FREEPORT – Town councilors voted unanimously Tuesday to endorse a nearly $17 million renovation of Freeport High School that is scheduled to go before voters in June.

click image to enlarge

The town council has backed a $16.9 million plan to renovate and add to Freeport High School, which would build nine classrooms, reconfigure library and cafeteria spaces, and make the front entrance more prominent and secure.

Courtesy of PDT Architects

While it doesn't guarantee voters' approval, the endorsement is a sign of community support for the plan that, by one councilor's judgment, is the largest expenditure in the town's recent history.

"I've been struggling with this all week," said Councilor Richard DeGrandpre during Tuesday's meeting.

He cited the cost to property owners, whose tax rate would jump to pay for bonds that would fund the expansive renovations and upgrades.

DeGrandpre estimated that the project would add 70 cents to the town's current tax rate of $15.45 per $1,000 valuation – about $175 a year on the tax bill for a home assessed at $250,000.

If approved by voters, the project's $16.9 million cost will be divided proportionally among taxpayers in Freeport, Pownal and Durham, whose students attend schools in the regional district that was formed four years ago.

Pownal's selectmen heard a presentation about the plan Monday.

The plan calls for a reorganization of the high school and its campus and the addition of classroom space and parking spaces. It also would bring existing facilities into compliance with accessibility laws.

Other improvements would add an outdoor running track and upgrade and reconfigure playing fields. The school is one of three of its size in Maine that don't have a track.

The renovations would also make way for permanent classrooms for special education, which now are in a double-wide trailer.

In addition to wanting better facilities, students, administrators and parents have complained of overcrowding at Freeport High. Enrollment is expected to grow from 540 this year to 688 in a decade, according to the school.

Councilor Andy Wellen said at Tuesday's meeting that the structural upgrades deserve the town's support. "There are aspects of this project that are just essential," he said.

 

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

mbyrne@pressherald.com

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)