Construction of a new Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham is nearly 75% complete, and on track to be finished in June. Courtesy School Administrative District 75

TOPSHAM — The new Mt. Ararat High School is nearly three-quarters of the way done and on schedule to be finished this June, according to school officials.

Meanwhile, School Administrative District 75 will likely hire EnviroVantage, a New Hampshire company, to remove additional hazardous material found in the 1973 school prior to its demolition. The firm submitted a low bid of about $759,000 for the work, Building Committee Chairman John Hodge said last week.

The district is due to award the bid upon approval Thursday, Feb. 13, by the SAD 75 Board of Directors, according to Superintendent Shawn Chabot.

John Hodge is chairman of the School Administrative District 75’s Building Committee. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

SAD 75 had budgeted $1.2 million from contingency funds for the demolition and EnviroVantage’s bid was “much less than what we expected those costs to be,” Hodge said.

The asbestos is “encapsulated,” and hence not harmful to school students or staff, he said, adding, “the issue is, during the demolition of the old high school, this material could become harmful to those performing the work and as such must be removed before the demo begins and sent to an appropriate facility for disposal.”

“We have changes that occur during a complex building process like this, but well within the contingency that we’ve set aside to cover those additional expenses,” Hodge said. The project has a $2.3 million contingency line.

Of the $59.2 million project, SAD 75 is paying Arthur C. Dudley of Standish, the project’s primary contractor, $47 million to build the new school and demolish the old. The district has spent 72.93% of that amount, which equates to nearly 73% of the project being completed, according to Chabot.

The remaining $12.2 million outside the contract includes a contingency fund and $3.2 million for equipment, furniture and technology, as well as architectural and engineering fees, and testing, consultants and commissioning.

SAD 75 is expected to take possession of the building in mid-June, in advance of a fall opening for the 2020-21 school year.

“We’re excited to be able to get the keys,” Hodge said.

The faculty is scheduled to start moving into the new building, which is farther down the Eagles Way campus, immediately after school adjourns in June. Demolition of the older structure is due to begin in July and run six to nine months, after which a new synthetic turf athletic field will be installed in its place and completed in 2021. 

Mt. Ararat High School Principal Donna Brunette, at right, looks on during a recent tour of the new Topsham school. Contributed

“We’re in the process now of getting toward the finishes, which is really encouraging,” Hodge said. Those include final painting, flooring, ceiling tiles, light fixtures and classroom cabinets. “You can begin to see what that final product is going to look like.”

Some siding and brickwork remains to be completed, but the electrical, plumbing and mechanical work is done, Hodge said. Site work, such as paving the parking lots and the roadway into the school, as well as loaming and seeding, will be done later this year. Furniture has yet to be ordered.

Holly Kopp, a School Board and Building Committee member, is excited to see the project approaching its final lap.

“We’re all extremely excited to have our students start next school year in the new school,” she said. “It’s going to be a fabulous community space, and I think it will be a lot of fun this summer to see the move happen.”

Comments are not available on this story.