Students reporting for classes this fall at Freeport High School will walk into classrooms with new lighting, flooring and technology hookups. The outdated bathroom near the principal’s office will have been gutted and modernized.

Those improvements, part of the $14.6 million school renovation, will be made to the existing building. Sheridan Corp. will have a new two-story building in back of the school completed by January 2017.

“That new bathroom will be the first thing students see when they go into the building,” said John Simoneau, chairman of the Freeport High School Building Advisory Committee.

When students enter the new building in January, they’ll also find classroms, a band room, a cafeteria and kitchen.

RSU 5 is finding many uses for the $622,000 in funds available when the school renovation project came in under estimates. Last month, the board approved spending $75,000 for a new ceiling and new lighting for the school library; $38,371 for increased classroom technology to include existing classrooms; $18,234 for wiring for security;$61,066 for a security camera system; $62,100 for electronic building access control; and $24,065 to rekey the existing building to a controlled key system.

Simoneau said security was a high priority.

“Access control and security cameras – those were the two biggest value items,” he said. “The other big value item was the library, for the ceiling and the lighting.”

Simoneau and the rest of the Building Committee also have some money remaining in a contingency fund.

“We’ve got a little left from that,” Simoneau said. “We’re in a very healthy position when it comes to contingency funds. Right now we really want to hold onto that contingency money, in case we run into an unknown condition. I’m really happy with where we’re at.”

So far, there have been no unexpected issues or expenses, he said.

The primary outstanding question is whether Freeport High athletes will be playing games on a new synthetic turf surface next year, or be on the same grass field that suffers from overuse. The Tri-Town Track & Field Project is working with RSU 5 to get a bond issue on the November ballot. The board will decide in September whether to go to referendum.

If the bond passes muster with residents of Freeport, Durham and Pownal, the school will get a new synthetic turf field and, for the first time ever, have a track of its own, to be named after Freeport resident Joan Benoit Samuelson, who won the 1984 Women’s Olympic Marathon.

Nelson Larkins, former school board chairman and a volunteer for the Tri-Town Track & Field Project, said that the general plan is to report to the school board the amount of money raised at the end of August. At last report, the group had raised approximately $1.85 million of the estimated $3.2 million it will cost to build the athletic complex. Nike, which sponsors Samuelson, has pledged $1 million.

“Engineering and soil studies are being completed and those will also be presented with solid estimates for costs of the project,” Larkins said. “The school board will then decide whether to send the project out to referendum in November. There’s no way yet to know exactly what the referendum language might be.”

The Freeport High School Building Advisory Committee meets monthly. A construction team subcommittee meets monthly with Sheridan Corp. officials in the job trailer behind the high school. Subcommittee members include Simoneau; Superintendent Becky J. Foley; Kelly Wentworth, RSU 5 director of finance and human resources; and Dennis Ouellette, director of facilities and transportation, .

The windows are in, and general contractor Sheridan Corp. recently put dry wall into the new two-story addition at Freeport High School.


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