The Brunswick Junior High School chorus classroom, as seen in this 2019 file photo, is in a converted industrial arts area. The art classroom’s kiln is located behind the far partition, and students have to walk through the room to get to art class. The kiln and surrounding area will be fixed with the latest round of revolving renovation funds from the state. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — Brunswick Junior High School will receive $160,790 from the state for renovations to the school that superintendent Paul Perzanoski called a “hodgepodge of a building.” 

Revolving renovation funds from the Maine Department of Education are essentially state-funded loans that require only a partial repayment, based on the school’s free and reduced lunch numbers. 

The school department requested nearly $1 million in funds, largely to help update the junior high school, which has a laundry list of fixes totaling in the millions, but was approved for just under half, at $456,380. Of that, the majority, almost $300,000, will go toward repairing the ventilation system at neighboring Coffin Elementary School. The school department will need to pay back about $184,000 for Coffin and $100,000 for the junior high.

Coffin school will close to students in the fall when the new Kate Furbish Elementary School opens, but town and school officials have not yet decided what to do with the building, Perzanoski said. 

He expects the community will want to use the space in the future, and there have already been inquiries from the parks and recreation department. The building will have to remain at least partially open, as Coffin is home to the “central kitchen” for the district, cooking meals for Brunswick Junior High School (which does not have a kitchen) and the REAL School and acting as the drop off location for most bulk deliveries. 

The $160,790 going to the junior high school will go toward some updates to bring the building up to code with national accessibility standards, some asbestos removal, new signs, security upgrades and repair to the art department kiln and the area it’s housed in, which is in an old industrial arts space between the art room and the chorus room. 


The funding is helpful, Perzanoski said, as the junior high is the “last building we need to spend some significant work on,” but is only a drop in the bucket of what is needed, and is about one-third of what they applied for.

Brunswick was denied a $100,782 request to help restructure the vestibule for security reasons, a $164,374 request to replace the public address system, and, perhaps most importantly, a $208,611 request to fix a sinking hallway floor that has already been propped up at least once before.

Some fixes to the school, which turned 60 last year, are funded through the budget or the capital improvement plan. For example, this year, the district spent $134,000 on roof repairs, $40,000 on flooring replacements, $65,000 on more bathroom upgrades, and more, according to Perzanoski. 

But the list goes on. The Times Record reported last year that some classrooms are separated only by partitions, others are drafty and there is an entire middle row of classrooms without windows. The art room’s walls don’t extend all the way to the ceiling and the room often smells of sewage. Students have to walk through some classrooms to get to others. There is no kitchen. 

Major renovations, though, according to Perzanoski, are on hold until more significant funding, perhaps for a new school, is released. 

In 2015, even the most basic repair estimates were around $3.5 million, creeping up to $21 million for extensive renovations and an addition. A new school, at the time, was expected to cost at least $28.5 million. 

An application for such funding in 2018 placed Brunswick Junior High as 44th on a list of 79 projects. 

Until it moves up, the district will have to make do and fix what it can, when it can.

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