WINSLOW — The junior high school building committee voted to apply for a construction manager Thursday at its first meeting.

The building committee is charged with selecting a plan for a two-building configuration after the Winslow School Board approved a recommendation from a previous study committee to house kindergarten through sixth-grade students at the elementary school and seventh- through 12th-grade students at the high school.

The new committee needs to come up with the plan and a cost estimate by Nov. 8 so the item can be voted on at a referendum, Superintendent Eric Haley said.

Stephen Blatt, who runs Stephen Blatt Architects in Portland, which was chosen to design the project, suggested that the committee apply for a construction manager. Traditionally, publicly funded buildings are put out to bid to contractors and then the organization is required to choose the lowest bidder, which can result in problems, Blatt said.

However, the Bureau of General Services can approve public building projects for “alternative building” which would allow the organizations to advertise, interview and hire a project manager. The manager would give updated cost estimates, pre-screen and manage all subcontractors and ensure student safety as construction goes on during the school year, Blatt said.

“From my experience, it frequently finishes a little bit early, and it never finishes under budget, but it also never finishes over budget,” he said.

Blatt said the project would likely be approved for alternative building because there would be activity in the buildings during construction. The project manager would sign a guaranteed maximum price contract for the project and would get paid a percent of the project, which the committee could discuss during the interviews.

Raymond Caron, a committee member and town councilor, made a motion to have Blatt begin the application process, which passed unanimously.

The application process could take a month, Blatt said, and then the committee has to advertise for the position and interview candidates. He is hoping to get a manager in place by April.

The committee also discussed its timeline for the project. It hopes to have a public meeting at the end of May and then more meetings throughout September and October.

The Winslow School Board voted in August 2016 to close the junior high school within the next three years after years of talk about the 1928 building. The cost to repair the building would be $3 million, which would still leave it relatively cramped and inefficient, some said. Every window needed to be replaced, the gymnasium floors were pulling up and the building is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Blatt had presented preliminary options for construction at a study committee meeting, saying a “basic” expansion of the high school would cost $4.5 million, or $5.85 million with a small performing arts center. An expansion plan with a full performing arts center would cost $8.3 million.

However, Haley said shifting the students to the other two schools would save the system $250,000 annually in heating and maintenance costs.

Madeline St. Amour — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @madelinestamour

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