CAPE ELIZABETH — The school board voted in favor of a recommendation replace Pond Cove Elementary and Cape Elizabeth Middle School buildings with a single bond, a process which could be quicker and less costly than other options.

On Dec. 15, the school board unanimously approved the recommendation from the School Building Committee to replace the Pond Cove and middle school buildings with a single bond and allocate ample funds to the renovation of the high school.

Colby Company Engineering and Scott Simmons Architects were hired in 2017 to study and assess the lifespan of the Cape Elizabeth school buildings, James Hebert, project manager at Colby Company, said.

The study was prompted by a safety need for the Pond Cove and middle school entrances as well as the shared cafetorium, said Heather Altenburg, committee member and school board chair.

The companies finished a needs assessment report in October of 2019, documenting their findings for all three school buildings.

The School Building Committee was charged with reviewing the needs assessment report, determining priorities, determining the size and scope of the future building project and bond and making a recommendation to the school board, said committee member Jenn Grymek.

On Dec. 8, the committee came to the recommendation decision after voting. Andrew Patten, committee member, said that four different options were reviewed.

The hypothetical concept for replacing both Pond Cove Elementary and Cape Elizabeth Middle School’s buildings concurrently with a single bond. Courtesy photo

Construction in the approved option would replace the two buildings all at once, Hebert said. First, the new middle school would be constructed and middle school students would move in, the lower school students moving to populate the former middle school building.

The Pond Cove building would then be demolished and reconstructed, and after the lower school students return to the newly constructed building, the former middle school would be demolished.

“This is the quickest and most efficient way to get you to your final destination,” Hebert said. “It will save you a significant amount of money. When we’re talking about dollars, everything is significant.”

A concept study presented by Hebert showed the construction process beginning in 2022 and ending in 2026. Voters will need to approve the bond referendum in 2021 in this timeframe.

Creating a schematic design and a cost estimate is the next step, according to the presentation.

School board members spoke in favor of the recommendation before voting.

Altenburg said she is proud of the work that was done in the committee.

“I thought it was extensive and thorough and thoughtful,” she said. “I don’t think this decision was made lightly. There was very deep understanding of what’s being recommended here, and there was a tremendous amount considered. So I wholeheartedly back this recommendation.”

The committee looked at the pros and cons of every decision, Kimberly Carr, vice chair, said.

“I think there were strong opinions voiced and heard and I think in the end we landed in a great place, and I think it was a lot of work and a lot of time that we asked of a whole bunch of people,” Carr said. “Super appreciative of all the involvement we’ve had. I think the decision that was brought to us today is a good one.”

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