SCARBOROUGH — For nearly a month, subcommittees of the Wentworth Building Committee have been meeting with the School Board and Town Council to develop a proposal for a new intermediate school. 

Now there’s a preliminary price tag on the project: $38.3 million. 

The building committee had promised its proposal would cost less and be smaller than a plan rejected by voters in 2006. That proposal was also for $38.3 million; adjusted for inflation, the new proposal costs about $4 million less than the plan five years ago.

The proposal voters defeated would have built a school of approximately 188,000 square feet. The new proposal is for a 163,000-square-foot building.

The proposal also includes an optional $3 million closed-loop geothermal heating and cooling system. Lead architect Daniel Cecil of Harriman Associates said the system would cost more up front, but that after five or 10 years of use, it could pay for itself and save money in perpetuity.

In Wednesday’s meeting at Wentworth, Cecil and committee Chairman Paul Koziel said the price includes several costs that are unique to this project, which drove up the final tally. 

For example, demolition of the current Wentworth School would total $484,000. Costs associated with asbestos and lead removal come in at more than $600,000.

The new building also would include several facilities not common to similar schools, including a kitchen that will cook meals for the entire school district; a gym large enough for the high school basketball and track teams, and community use; and spaces for district and community services. 

Since the initial unveiling of the floor plan two weeks ago, the committee cut almost 10,000 square feet.

Three spaces for district-wide use – a meeting room, a curriculum set-up room and a testing room – were dropped. The committee also reduced the cafeteria, library, kitchen, band room, administrative offices and others.

The school would include 40 classrooms, down from an earlier proposal of 46. The building would be two stories, with a large, internal courtyard to maximize natural light to all the classrooms.

Koziel emphasized that the $38 million preliminary cost is capped.

“This is a budget ceiling,” he said. “Now the question is, how do we chip away from it?”

To that end, the committee is preparing for a final set of meetings to fine-tune the proposal in time for a November referendum.

The Town Council will first take up the proposal on July 13. The School Board was expected to take an initial vote, and possibly make modifications, on Thursday.

If all goes according to the committee’s plan, the new school could open in three years.

Mario Moretto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow Mario on Twitter: @riocarmine.

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