FARMINGTON – In a nonbinding straw poll at Mt. Blue High School on Tuesday, SAD 9 residents voted 47-1 to approve the concept plan for the proposed renovation and addition to the high school and the Foster Career Center.

“It’s a big project; it’s a long project, and it’s an expensive project,” said Lyndon Keck, senior principal with PDT Architects.

The estimated cost is $64.32 million, of which the state will pay $60 million.

SAD 9 Superintendent Michael Cormier estimated the tax impact based on the current value of a $100,000 home in SAD 9 at $31 per year, with the project being bonded over 20 years. The amounts paid per year would go down during the length of the bond.

Cormier said the project would be bonded through the school facilities program. The high school and technology center campus is 41 years old and is nearing the end of its useful life, he said.

Cormier added that the school district hopes to hold a public vote on the project this fall. Construction would begin in September 2010 and last for three years.

“Between this project and the Mallet School project, it will bring millions of dollars into Franklin County,” Cormier said of the construction jobs that would be created and local businesses that would benefit.

The new school will be modeled after modern U.S. high school learning campuses and is intended to serve ninth grade through adult learners. Adult education and college courses will be offered, and career, technical and traditional education courses will be integrated.

The facility is designed for 950 students and is 226,000 square feet with room for expansion. The existing high school and technology center have 146,000 square feet of building space plus 36,000 square feet in portable classrooms.

Cormier said the portable classrooms would be removed with the completion of new construction. Of the current building, 88,000 square feet would be renovated, with more insulation, better windows and other energy-saving work.

The exterior walls will be rebuilt to comply with modern energy codes, Keck said. New brick veneer will be added on the outside and most portions of the new structure will feature sloped metal roofs.

One-third of the building will be heated geothermally; wood chip boilers will heat two-thirds. Natural daylighting will reduce electrical consumption and there will be photovoltaic arrays on the roof and wind generators to produce electricity.

The building will feature a renovated gymnasium, a new 500-seat auditorium and an open food court. The faculty will have resource areas instead of individually assigned offices and will move from classroom to classroom.

It allows for team teaching, Keck said.

The vision is for education based on community resources; internships and school-to-work programs will be part of the campus learning environment. Students will have personalized learning plans and the campus is structured to provide for substantial professional staff development.

There will be a new firefighting program and a new program designed for students interested in becoming plumbers, electricians or working with heating and ventilation. Also, there will be a business incubator lab on the campus for local businesspeople to start or grow businesses in conjunction with students and faculty.

There will be a “Main Street,” – a main corridor extending through the first level of the three-story structure. Administrative offices, classrooms, and a lecture and presentation room will be among the rooms located off the primary hallway.

The existing site of 68 acres will be used, along with 12.4 additional acres that the school district purchased. There will be five athletic fields, an extra practice field on another part of the property and five tennis courts. The new, all-weather track will have a football and soccer competition field in the middle.

All of the parking and driveways will be new, with 400 parking spaces.

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