Showing posts with label Stantec. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stantec. Show all posts

Friday, December 22, 2023

Preliminary work proceeding for new Windham/Raymond Middle School

By Ed Pierce

RSU 14 in in the final stages of real estate closings for three parcels of land that will make up the new Windham/Raymond Middle School site and while that is taking place, work is ongoing to finalize site layout work and obtain permits prior to the building’s construction.

RSU 14 has entered the final stages of real estate closing on
three pieces of land making up the site of the new
Windham/Raymond Middle School. 
In November, a plurality of voters in the school district, which encompasses Windham and Raymond, approved a referendum to build the new school with about 77 percent of construction costs paid by the Maine Department of Education’s Major Capital Construction Program. In Windham, voters supported the middle school construction referendum voters with 3,769 voting yes and 2,257 voting no. Raymond residents opposed the referendum with 975 voters to voting no and 739 voting for the referendum.

The new school will use a team-teaching concept where students will be divided into 12 teams to provide personal connection and then broken up into smaller instructional teams. Incorporating Integrative Project Based Learning, Team Teaching is a method of instruction where a group of teachers work together to plan, conduct, and evaluate learning activities for the same group of students and the school’s design takes all of that into account with the team areas of the building allowing for a science teacher, math teacher, social studies teacher, and an English teacher to be in the same teaming area. Research has shown the delivery of content through integrated units and projects increases student engagement and ultimately student achievement.

Christopher Howell, RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools, said plenty of work has been done since the referendum was approved last month.

“Within the next few weeks, we will have closed on the property at 61 Windham Center Road, 77 Windham Center Road, and a one-acre parcel on River Road,” said Christopher Howell, RSU 14 Superintendent of Schools. “We are underway with the financing of the project. This process has included the selection of a bond broker and an initial credit rating for the district. We are pleased to announce that the district received the highest possible initial rating that an organization can receive for a first rating.”

Howell said that the first bond anticipation note for initial project costs was acquired last week. The proceeds from the sale will pay for the land, initial Department of Environmental Protection permit fees, architectural fees, as well as other expenses that the district has incurred to date.”

The civil engineering firm for the project, Stantec, has been working to finalize the site layout for the project and have been working to finalize our permit for the Department of Environmental Protection,” Howell said.

“We are anticipating that we will be able to submit the permit to the DEP on Dec. 22,” he said. “The DEP permit takes roughly 180 days to process. We are hoping to have the site development portion of the project out to bid in April.”

Along with that, Howell said that the architectural team from Lavallee Brensinger Architects has been holding stakeholder meetings with administrators, teachers and support staff who will be staffing the new buildings.

“The meetings are feedback sessions on previous concept layouts to ensure that we have the best possible design layouts prior to the development of construction drawings for the project,” he said.

According to Howell, Bill Hansen, the district’s Director of Facilities, Property Services and Special Projects, has been working with the HVAC engineers and electrical engineers as they work to design a building that operates efficiently and economically for years to come.

The original Windham Middle School was built in 1977 and intended for a capacity of 483 students. That number has grown in the last year to 636 students, with sixth graders being housed for some classes at the adjacent Field Allen School, originally constructed in 1949. Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond was built in 1960.

RSU 14 first applied for the Maine Department of Education’s Major Capital Construction Program in 2016 for funding for construction and was ranked as the fifth-highest priority among 74 proposed school construction projects statewide each year before eventually gaining approval in March 2021. Once a district applies for funding, Maine Department of Education reviews and rates the projects based upon need. The State Board of Education then funds as many projects from the list as available debt limit funds allow. Working with the State Board of Education, Maine DOE establishes both size and financial limits on projects.

Local school districts may exceed these limits at local expense through municipal bonds, but the state bears the major financial burden of capital costs for approved school construction projects. As such, Maine DOE first looks at the possibility of renovations or renovations with additions and new school construction projects are only considered in instances in which renovation projects are not economically or educationally feasible, which was the case with Windham Middle School and Jordan-Small Middle School in Raymond.

More than 132 potential 35-plus acre sites were originally identified for review by the RSU 14 WMS Building Committee and then ranked according to transportation accessibility, utility availability, environmental impact, and a range of other factors. RSU 14’s Board of Directors entered into an option-to-purchase agreement with the owner of 61 Windham Center Road in Windham and the owner agreed to take the property off the market for a period of up to two years in 2021.

Under the project plans for the new middle school, the school would educate Windham and Raymond students in Grades 5 to 8, meaning Jordan-Small School would close. Windham fifth graders currently attending Manchester School would attend the new school, as would Jordan-Small Middle School students from Raymond. The new school is being designed for a capacity of 1,200 students.

Howell said that it is anticipated construction on the new Windham/Raymond Middle School building would be completed by the fall of 2027. Windham and Raymond students who will be entering grades 1 to 4 this fall will be the first classes to occupy the building. <