WINSLOW — Members of the building committee presented their $8.6 million plan to close the junior high school and create new space to accommodate the affected sixth, seventh and eighth grades to the Town Council, and with little debate, at the council meeting Monday evening.

The presentation came after a similar $10.33 million bond to close the junior high and make renovations to the other schools failed at the polls in November.

Eric Haley, Aletnative Organizational Structure 92 Superintendent of Schools, presented the schematics and estimated costs for each plan to the council so, he said, they could have the information before the school board considers the proposal at their Feb. 26 meeting rather than to debate or compare the competing plans

The plan that the building committee has endorsed unanimously is a $8.6 million proposal includes funds to build program space for seventh- and eighth-grade students at the high school, a 430-seat auditorium, auxiliary gymnasium expansion and food service expansion. It also includes money to renovate the elementary school in order to add space for sixth-grade students.

Haley recognized that the Town Council instructed the committee to cap the bond proposal at $7.83 million, however, he and the rest of the committee believed this plan would put the school and community in the best position in the longrun.

“It was the best option to serve our students and our community in the next 25 to 30 years,” Haley said.

Steve Russell, the council chairman, raised a question about how much money the community might save by consolidating the schools and Haley said the possible $350,000 in savings could help pay for the difference in the council’s framework of $7.83 million and what the committee came up with.

Councilor Kenneth Fletcher took the committee’s presentation as an opportunity to pitch his own idea of how the committee, school board and council could work together in the future to come up with a comprehensive financial plan for the town’s schools, including consolidation, the possible dissolution of AOS 92 as well as future school enrollment.

The committee voted on two other possible plans, which were both unanimously rejected. The first was a pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade configuration, which would bring all junior high students to the elementary school. The cost estimate for that project totaled about $9.6 million.

The second proposal included a plan to renovate the high school for a grades 7-through-12 configuration and would cost $7.52 million, but it would not include any addition of an auditorium.

The original plan included a 600-seat auditorium for visual and performing arts, which became a major point of contention for critics who said the auditorium was unnecessary.

Resident Mary Morrison spoke up during the discussion about her support of having an auditorium be a part of any future renovation.

“The townspeople value projects that enhance the community and make it a better place to live for our children,” she said. “Like the fields, the auditoriums enabled us to host community events.”

Morrison continued to say that auditoriums were in equal importance as fields and gymnasiums for students to pursue and study their passions and talents.

In an interview before the meeting, Phil St.Onge, a critic of the committee’s recommendation, said it was troubling that the committee’s plan came in over the council’s bond cap. He believed that the students would be able to put on their performances and do their work in the existing 220-seat auditorium.

“It seems like a want rather than a need,” he said.

The school board plans to review the committe’s proposal on Feb. 26. All parties hope to have a bond option on the ballot for voters by June.

Emily Higginbotham — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @EmilyHigg

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