FARMINGTON – Initial plans for a large learning campus that integrates Mt. Blue High School and Foster Technology Center were presented to members of the Farmington Planning Board Monday.

Looking ahead to renovate the 40-year-old high school, SAD 9 applied for state funding in 2004 and was one of 20 schools accepted to receive it, Lyndon Keck from PDT Architects in Portland told the board. While the state used to approve funding every two years, it hasn’t since 2004. When the next cycle of funding will take place is unknown, he said.

The state would pay 94.5 percent, approximately $59 million, of the estimated $63 million cost for the expansion and renovation project, if approved by SAD 9 voters. The local share of the cost is estimated to be $3.5 million, Keck said. SAD 9 is looking to hold a referendum vote in September, but it’s a “one-shot” vote as funds will go to the next school on the list if local voters turn it down. Approximately $350,000 in local funds have already been spent.

Plans include adding 12.5 acres to the present campus while keeping approximately 60 percent of the present structure. The project is being referred to as a learning campus, Keck said. Plans show the building organized and structured by types of classes in an effort to combine students from both the high school and Foster Tech, he said.

One front entrance would bring all students together and access a new two-story wing, the original three-story section of Mt. Blue and a one-story section of Foster Tech. This building would house classes according to subjects such as pre-engineering and biotechnology, as well as traditional high school subjects.

Proposed to be constructed in six phases over three years, construction would be completed in 2013, Keck said. Some programs would be moved to sites around Farmington, but most students would remain at the present site during construction.

Highlights of the project include a new 500-seat auditorium, new library, five new athletic fields, including five tennis courts, and increased parking. Renovation of the present gymnasium would rotate the basketball court from north/south to east/west. A food court is also planned along a main hallway called Main Street.

After working with Farmington Water Corp., grant funds are being sought for a new 400,000 gallon reservoir on school grounds. Presently served by three wells that can’t be relied upon, he said, the school would be connected to municipal water and sewer systems, allowing for installation of a sprinkler system.

Part of the building would be heated by a geothermal system and the rest heated by wood chips. Plans also include a solar hot water system and maximum use of solar light and small scale wind generators to help reduce electrical costs, Keck said.

Franklin County Community College Network and adult education classes would also be offered at the learning campus. A new 250-seat space is planned for smaller group presentations.

The plans also include a 2,400-square-foot lab to encourage entrepreneurship, he said. People could use the space to start a business working with students and faculty. Once the business is up and running, it would move out, leaving the space for another business to begin, he said.



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