Results from a study of all town-owned properties are expected to guide the community in modernizing and expanding the aging Gorham High School.

The Gorham School Committee has placed school expansion plans on hold while awaiting the the study’s results, Superintendent Heather Perry said this week.

A previous study of the high school’s needs resulted in 2019 with a $75.6 million expansion and renovation plan and a lesser option for $71.9 million. Those two proposals followed an earlier $96.8 million proposal sent sticker shock through the community.

“Our hope is that once the long range planning process is complete we will have a much more comprehensive understanding of the overall needs of the community and will be able to move forward with addressing those needs in a more comprehensive and effective way,” Perry said.

The ongoing facilities study, at a cost of less than $150,000, was commissioned by the Town Council in December and is being co-funded by the School Department, according to council Vice Chairperson Suzanne Phillips.

CHA Architects and Engineers, formerly PDT Architects in Portland, is conducting the study of all town facilities including schools, fire stations, Public Works, Public Safety, the municipal center, libraries, Old Robie School, Little Falls Activity Center, Robie Gym and all athletic fields.

The study will provide “physical evaluation of our facilities, space assessments, suggested expansions, cost estimates and any possible efficiencies,” Phillips said.

As of April 15, she said, CHA “had toured all the buildings on the list and their site coordinator was going to start on land areas and fields.

Perry anticipates completion of the study by either late summer or early fall.

“Until the completion of this study and appropriate time spent working with the Town Council to understand its contents and to develop a common plan for town facilities needs (to include the school’s needs), the School Committee will keep the high school expansion project on hold,” Perry said.

The high school opened in 1959. It was renovated in the 1994 for $11 million to serve 750 students. The enrollment before the pandemic was 868 with a projection to hit 975 by 2029.

To provide the extra space needed during the pandemic,  the high school has held some classes at the municipal center, which is on the same campus. The municipal center is a former high and junior high school built in 1938 that was converted for town office use for $7 million in 2006.

An unofficial idea that cropped up in a workshop a few years ago speculated about the possibility of converting the municipal center for high school use and building a new town hall elsewhere.

“I think it would be a cheaper option,” Phillips said, but questioned whether the old school building could be sufficiently adapted to today’s high school programs.

The municipal center has a gym, parking and kitchen.

Phillips is waiting for results of the latest study.

“I’m looking for a recommendation from them,” Phillips said.

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