GORHAM — The Gorham High School Building Committee Tuesday recommended a $71.9 million option to expand and renovate the 60-year old school, which would depend entirely on local taxpayer funding.

The proposal meets “all your educational needs,” said consultant Dan Cecil of Harriman Architects and Engineers, which developed the plan.

Members of the Gorham High School Building Committee include, clockwise from left, Town Council Vice Chairwoman Suzanne Phillips, GHS guidance counselor Kate Stevens, teacher Robert Weed, parent Sarah Plummer, Assistant Superintendent Chris Record and Principal Brian Jandreau.

The building committee recommendation comes after months of study. If the School Committee approves the plan, it would be sent to the Town Council, which must approve a referendum on the project.

The Building Committee did not take an official vote Tuesday, when they made their recommendation to the School Committee, but most building  committee members support the proposal.

“I think we have a marching order,” said Darryl Wright, chairman of both the Building Committee and School Committee.

However, three town councilors who also sit on the 14-member building committee oppose to sending the $71.9 million plan to voters.

“The High School Building Committee has done a great deal of work to get this option where it is, but there is no way the taxpayers and the town’s bond rating can shoulder this amount of debt,” Town Councilor Lee Pratt said in an email Wednesday. “In my opinion, we need to get creative and look at other alternatives now.”

Two other options on the discussion table were pegged at $96.8 million and $75.6 million.

“I don’t go along with any of these options,” Town Councilor Paul Smith said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Town Council Vice Chairwoman Suzanne Phillips said the $71.9 million plan is the best so far but she wouldn’t endorse it and send it to voters.

The high school opened in 1959 and was renovated in the mid-1990s to house 750 students. According to an unofficial count in September, the overcrowded school had 875 students with projections to grow to 975 in a decade.

The high school now has six portable classrooms installed on campus to handle the overcrowding.

Assistant Superintendent Chris Record favors the recommended option.  “It prepares us for growth that is coming,” he said.

The proposal would provide common spaces for 1,100 students with classrooms to handle 950. Common spaces would include a second gym, a new and larger cafeteria and a new main entrance.

The Gorham High School Building Committee is sending this renovation/expansion plan to the School Committee. Courtesy rendering

Five new tennis courts would be placed in the adjacent Robie Park and school parking would be upped from 256 spaces to 417.

A new, two story classroom wing would be built parallel to Morrill Avenue.

The school’s main entrance would be shifted from the Morrill Avenue end of the existing building to the school’s opposite end at the bus drop off area and large parking lot.

Principal Brian Jandreau said he’s excited about the security improvement in relocating the main entrance.

“It’s a significant upgrade of school safety,” Jandreau said, noting there is a misperception in town that the school has an open campus.

Unlike some of the other proposals, the recommended plan does not encroach on Robie Park or impact Ball Park and Access roads, nor does it cover renovations and improvements to athletic fields or construction of a press box.

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