RANGELEY — The Ad Hoc Building Committee heard suggestions for improving Rangeley Lakes Regional School during Tuesday night’s forum.

Among the ideas were creating a small performance space, a larger gym, warmer colors and better lighting in the cafeteria and smaller spaces for specialized learning.

The 40-year-old building houses 190 students in grades kindergarten to 12.

Chairman Chris Farmer welcomed a panel from Oak Point Associates, a Biddeford design and engineering firm represented by designer Chantel Tourigny, interior designer Sarah Smith, architect Tyler Barter and President Rob Tillotson, an  architect and engineer. Joining the panel were Farmer and four other members of the committee and Superintendent Sue Pratt.

Oak Point was chosen from among four firms and reports and plans about renovations collected since the 1990s were turned over to the firm, Farmer said.

Tillotson said the firm was eager to start public forums early “because we don’t live here, and we need to know what’s important to you.”

Barter said the team made several visits to the school, speaking with teachers and inspecting the building. He said their main goal was to find out how the building relates to the community.

Pointing to a floor plan, Smith said four main structural concerns were security, handicap access, one staff restroom and science labs too small for safety.

Students’ top concerns were acoustics — walls do not reach the ceiling, allowing sound to bleed through several rooms — and the library being unavailable when used for testing. Other suggestions were a greenhouse, a small performance space, warmer colors and lighting for the cafeteria and a student lounge. Also of concern are ventilation, locker rooms in bad condition and only one gym for the entire student body.

Rangeley Selectman Rob Welch urged the Building Committee to prioritize critical issues regarding education and environment.

Issues raised by the public were:

* Expanding the gym to provide more space and gym time for practices and getting non-athletes active;

* Building a second soccer field to allow games to finish earlier;

* Creating science rooms that allow all students to have hands-on lab experience; and

* Creating rehearsal spaces for chorus, band and small groups.

Pratt and committee member Ginny Nuttall emphasized the need for small spaces to focus on specialized learning for all students rather than the large catch-all classes of the past.

Pratt said this is the reason the school, which housed 240 students several decades ago, now feels crowded with 190 students.

Smith agreed that the 21st-century learning experience should have small project rooms where all students can get hands-on experiences.

Guidance counselor and coach Heidi Deery agreed that the biggest problem is so many people want to use the same space. She pointed out that theater and music programs had planned to share the Rangeley Friends of the Arts’ new Lakeside Theater space, but Rangeley Friends of the Arts is now charging for its use.

Others said the school needs as much on-site student experience as it can get, in all activities, but planning a large performance space might be an unpopular move.

Farmer said engineers found the structure is well built and the renovation should guarantee its survival for another 40 years.

Tillotson stressed to the public that getting residents involved in the process is important.

“Your faculty and students were pragmatic with reasonable suggestions. There are affordable ways to solve these problems,” he said.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.