SCARBOROUGH – The people drafting a plan for a new Wentworth Intermediate School must, before a November referendum, figure out how the facility would meet community needs.

“If we are going to build a place, we should at least make it expandable enough to be able to include (the community),” Aymie Hardesty, a member of both the building committee and Board of Education, said last week at a workshop session among the school building committee, Scarborough Town Council and Board of Education. “If we are going to build it for 50, 75, 100 years from now, we need to build it as part of our community,” she said.

Dan Cecil, of Harriman Associates, the firm hired to help the building committee develop plans for the new school, said it is easier, and more financially sound, to plan for and include community space now, rather than building or adding on in the future.

“It is a matter of figuring out what all the needs are and finding the most cost-efficient ways to do it,” he said.

Town Manager Tom Hall said at minimum the town is looking at maintaining the community programming already operating in the school.

The Wentworth building has been plagued with air quality and asbestos issues. Late in the fall, the school committee determined that a new school, rather than a rehabbed Wentworth, would be the best strategy for Scarborough. The 41-member Wentworth Intermediate School Building Committee has been working to draft a plan for a new school for students in grades 3-5 in time for a town-wide vote in November.

Wentworth Principal Anne-Mayre Dexter said like other schools in the district, there are a lot of activities that occur in the building not associated with the school’s curriculum.

In fact, she said, both the school’s gymnasium and cafeteria are typically used from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and on weekends for groups such as the Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts, travel and recreational basketball, for dance or Zumba instruction, or as meeting space for booster groups or the Scarborough Special Education group.

A significant amount of the town’s Community Services summer program occurs at Wentworth, and during special events such as Summerfest or Winterfest, certain activities take place inside the school.

“Folks in the community look to schools to provide them the kind pf spaces they need,” Dexter said. “If we didn’t have these spaces, I think, some of those opportunities and activities would be bumped out to other places.”

Aside from providing space for community groups to use, Dexter said, Wentworth provides space for a number of district services, such as the K-12 testing services, the food service program and the preparation kitchen for meals for students at Wentworth and the district’s three elementary schools. The school also provides storage space for middle school and high school track and field and K-8 science and math materials.

“We recognize we are a public school and we welcome in any way we can supporting the community’s needs, but when the community is asking for a school that is run efficiently and that is cost-effective, we have to look carefully at the square footage we put in front of the community to vote on,” Dexter said.

She said this means a particular focus has to be placed on determining whether the activities the school accommodates could be moved to other locations, or operate out of the new Wentworth school.

This will be the second time in the last few years a plan for a new Wentworth Intermediate School will go before town voters. In 2006, by a vote of 5,176-3,316, Scarborough voters turned down a $38.3 million spending plan to demolish and rebuild Wentworth Intermediate School, and a $16.5 million plan to expand and renovate the nearby Scarborough Middle School by a 4,974-3,578 vote.

Paul Koziell, chairman of the building committee, assured both the Town Council and school board that this Wentworth plan would be “financially and fiscally responsible.”

If all goes as planned and the project plan gets approved this November, he said, construction would begin in 2012, with the new school opening in 2014.