An architect’s rendering of South Portland’s new middle school. Courtesy WBRC Architects-Engineers

SOUTH PORTLAND — The board of education approved a $55.9 million contract with a New Hampshire construction company for completion of a new South Portland middle school building. The approval was announced April 1.

Harvey Construction of Bedford, New Hampshire, was the sole bidder for the project, said Superintendent Ken Kunin. The state of Maine will provide $48 million of the $55.9 million, a little over 87 percent of costs, leaving $7 million for the local side, which about 70 percent of South Portland voters approved in a 2019 referendum.

The project will combine Mahoney Middle School and Memorial Middle School into one building, serving grades five through eight, said Kunin in a concept summary for the Maine Department of Education. The construction site is adjacent to Memorial Middle School.

Companies needed to meet a set of pre-qualifications from the state in order to submit a bid, Kunin said. The base bid was $51 million. However, prices of labor and materials have escalated, and many school projects in Maine have seen higher costs than initially projected.

The New Hampshire construction company has experience with school buildings in Maine, Kunin said. According to Harvey Construction’s website, Westbrook Middle School and Falmouth Elementary School are among the company’s past projects.

“We do think we have a great partner in Harvey Construction,” Kunin said. “There are two superintendents that I’ve worked with in the past, both who’ve had considerable experience in school construction. Both rave about Harvey Construction as a partner.”

South Portland’s Memorial Middle School, above, and Mahoney School will be combined into a new middle school where Memorial is located. Sean Murphy / For The Forecaster

Board chair Richard Matthews said the project is expected to be completed in 2023.

“There’s a lot of documents that go with it and everything, but in a roundabout way the good thing is we’re moving forward with our middle school project and we’ll be opening in 2023 as predicted,” Matthews said.

Elyse Tipton, board vice chair, said the selection of a construction company is significant after years of work.

“I just want to underscore hearing that 87 percent of these construction costs are being paid by the state, which is quite something and good for our city,” Tipton said.

She asked Kunin if Mainers would be hired for the project, and Kunin confirmed they would.

“The building committee and board of education are excited to begin construction,” said Kunin in a memo to the South Portland City Council. “We look forward to providing a safe and secure building which fosters an exceptional learning environment for the students of South Portland for decades to come.”

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