The committee planning a new Wentworth Intermediate School in Scarborough will present a general layout for the building to the town’s Board of Education at a special meeting tonight.

And the project’s most important element — the price tag — is expected to be made public in the next two weeks.

The building proposal will go to Scarborough voters in a bond request on Nov. 8. Town officials want the public to have as much time as possible to consider the plan.

“We have spent some time reviewing community needs, so we are a little bit behind from where we wanted to be,” said Chris Brownsey, the school board chair, who serves on the 40-member Wentworth Intermediate School Building Committee. “We’re in that stage right now, putting together the whole package and the costs,” Brownsey said.

Cost estimates for the project are expected to be ready to present to the school board at a meeting July 7. Building committee members then expect to submit a comprehensive proposal to the Town Council on July 20.

The council is responsible for putting the project on the ballot for November.

Supporters say the Wentworth school must be replaced for a variety of reasons, including overcrowding and problems with mold and asbestos. The school lacks a fire suppression system, its roof needs to be replaced and it is not fully handicapped accessible.

Wentworth serves about 775 students in the third, fourth and fifth grades. It was built as a junior high school in 1963 and has had a number of additions and portable classrooms.

Voters in 2006 turned down a proposed $38.5 million replacement for Wentworth. Members of the building committee say the school has deteriorated significantly in the past five years, and their proposal will be less expensive and smaller than the failed proposal.

“I really believe the public is aware of the problems at the Wentworth School, and it really is, for lack of a better word, a money pit,” said Carol Rancourt, a third-term town councilor. Rancourt and Jessica Holbrook represent the council on the building committee.

Councilors appear to be unanimous in their support of the project this year, Rancourt said.

There was considerable debate and disagreement leading up to the vote in 2006, partly because there was another bond on the ballot that year, proposing $16.5 million for renovations at Scarborough Middle School. That proposal also failed.

Rancourt thinks Scarborough residents did not want to spend that much money, particularly after approving a $26.8 million high school renovation in 2002.

The Wentworth building committee has approached the new proposal with the past in mind, Rancourt said. It also wants to make sure that a new Wentworth school would accommodate the community activities that the school is known for, such as basketball programs and dance clubs.

“I am certainly in support of it,” Rancourt said. “I will do everything I can do to get it passed, but it’s ultimately up to the voters.” 

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

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