The completion date for the Crooked River renovation project has been pushed back to July 2021. File photo

CASCO — The renovation of Crooked River Elementary School has been delayed after the project came in over budget, pushing off its target completion date to July 2021.

Voters overwhelmingly voted to support the $9 million project in March 2019. The renovation will entail significant upgrades to bring the building up to code as well as the construction of a two-story addition and the installation of a fire sprinkler system.

Superintendent Al Smith said the project came in over its cost estimate due to economic factors, adding, “This isn’t unusual in today’s economics to have to re-evaluate pieces.”

The district is finalizing cost reductions, which include reducing the square footage by decreasing the width of hallways, leaving two posts in place that were proposed to be removed and using a gas boiler to heat the building rather than heat pumps.

These alternations “wouldn’t affect the overall integrity of the project,” said School Board Chair Janice Barter. 

She said the project, by Stephen Blatt of Portland, recently received all the necessary permits and will go out to bid on Feb. 20.

We should award that bid March 19. Hopefully, they’ll start building in April,” she said. 

It’s a good project because it’s an empty vessel, and it’s heated so they can get right to work,” Smith said. 

The project addresses overcrowding at Songo Locks School in Naples, which uses portable classrooms to house some of its students. Overcrowding will get worse in the next year or so as new state mandates require classrooms for pre-kindergarten students and child development services for 3- to 4-year-olds with significant needs. The renovated Crooked River School will serve students in grades 3-5, while pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and grades 1 and 2 will remain at Songo Locks.

Crooked River was built in 1985 and closed in 2009 to cut costs. The building is currently used for Adult Education and Special Services.

Although work has not begun, Barter said that “the architects and engineers have been in the building to see what’s really beneath all the plaster and ceiling tiles to make sure there’s no surprises.”

Smith aims for the renovation to be complete in July 2021 so that students will be able to move into the building for the 2021-2022 school year.

This way, everything will be completed, everything will be where it needs to be,” Smith said. 

In the meantime, the district will continue to lease its portable classrooms at Songo Locks.

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