At a special meeting on October 25, the Gorham School Committee (SC) voted unanimously to contract with Harriman Associates for a concept design for renovation and expansion of the existing Gorham High School, including the athletic fields. As approved, the contract and fee must not exceed $215,500 and “is contingent on funds being appropriated by the Town Council.” The council already appropriated $150,000 toward this phase of the project.
Harriman Associates, located in Auburn, has been providing architectural services for 56 years and has designed a number of educational facilities in the area, including the new South Portland High School. As summarized by Daniel Cecil, principle architect for the project, the firm will meet with a variety of stakeholders and work with the building committee before presenting various options to the SC.
Once a revised design is approved, the Committee will take it to the Town Council, who will then vote to put the project on the ballot as a bond issue referendum. Although the SC initially considered aiming for a fall 2018 vote, a spring 2019 referendum election would provide more time to arrive at a plan everyone agrees on and for educating the public on its various components.
In other business, the SC met informally with candidates for the four positions to be filled in the November 7 election to give them an overview of SC responsibilities and to answer their questions.
The final draft of the district’s Strategic Plan was reviewed and will come before the Committee for a first reading at the November 8 regular meeting. Superintendent Heather Perry explained that the plan was developed by a committee of students, faculty, parents and Gorham residents. It outlines goals for students, student learning, and for broadening student experiences in the community. SC members said that they would be looking at how the plan’s initiatives fit in with the district’s mission and budget.
The SC also continued to discuss with Kathy Hamblen, Director of Special Education, the need for more staff and space because of the increase in the student population entitled to services, the complexity of protocols required to provide them, and the long-term effect on the district budget.