WINSLOW — The town is progressing with plans to renovate its local high school and elementary school. At a meeting on Monday night, the school board authorized contracts for Stephen Blatt Architects to design the updates and for Ledgewood Construction to manage the project’s construction. Board members approved each contract 6-0.

“We look forward to moving forward with this,” said the board’s chair Joel Selwood.

Stephen Blatt Architects will receive a $520,000 payment for basic services. Ledgewood Construction will work within the $8.1 million budget set for the project and will be paid a 2.75 percent construction manager’s fee. The superintendent will be able to make changes to both contracts if supported by legal counsel.

“The project is largely defined, but we will have to make line-item decisions as we go and figure out what we can fund with the money we have,” Selwood said. “It has to come in at $8.1 million.”

Changes coming to the schools include adding seven to eight classroom spaces, building a 415-seat auditorium and expanding the cafeteria and gymnasium at the high school. The project will allow the town to close its junior high school, which is nearly a century old and is structurally hazardous.

An $8.1 million bond to fund renovations and additions to the schools was narrowly approved by Winslow residents in a June referendum in an 881-825 vote. Following reports that 194 individuals left the bond question blank, several residents voiced concern that those voters had not seen the item, which was printed on the backside of the ballot.

Superintendent Peter Thiboutot said that the bond has been sold and that the interest rate on it is “a little bit higher than we originally thought but not much.”

Voters had rejected previously a $10.3 million proposal for the renovations last November. People opposed to the plans cited frustration with paying more taxes, while those in favor felt that upgrades to the school facilities were essential. The budget decreased by about $2 million after the school reduced the size of the proposed auditorium, the necessity of which was another point of contention for voters. This decision upset much of the constituency, who noted the importance of investing in the performing arts and the unequal attention they felt that athletics and theater receive at the high school.

The architect suggested that renovations will begin in June 2019 and conclude by September 2020.

“This has been a long time in the making,” Thiboutot said.

Meg Robbins — 861-9239

[email protected]

@megrobbins

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