Dec. 14 meeting

The future of Camden’s Mary E. Taylor School. Tear it down? Lease it to another entity?

Mon, 12/12/2016 - 12:00pm

    UPDATE: MEETING LOCATION AND TIME CHANGE: The Camden-Rockport School Board will meet Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. with school and district administrators to consider next steps to construct a new Camden-Rockport Middle School. The project does not include using the existing Mary E. Taylor building, which was constructed in 1925. This meeting will precede the 7 p.m. regularly scheduled meeting will a full agenda of other items.

    The middle school planning meeting will be held in the atrium at the Camden-Rockport Elementary School on Route 90 in Rockport. It will be followed at 7 p.m. by a regularly scheduled board meeting.

    At their November meeting, School Administrative District 28 board members voted to accept the Camden-Rockport Building Vision Committee’s recommendation to pursue building a new middle school on the site of the existing Knowlton Street campus in Camden.

    The board agreed also to form a committee to oversee the design process. The project would appear before voters as a bond proposal in November 2017, as the proposal is currently planned.

    “Because the recommendation is to build a new school, the Mary E. Taylor Building will not be a part of that project,” according to Nov. 16 board minutes. “However, components of the building, such as wood floors, windows and/or parts of the façade could possibly be used in the interior of a new building. Other options for the MET building include turning it over to the town of Camden or leasing it to another organization.

    “The school board requested that administration explore the options and their educational and financial implications and provide the Board with a recommendation. Considerationof
    the disposition of the MET building will be on December's School Board meeting agenda.”

    The new school building, as proposed in September, would be 83,400 square feet in size.


    Voters in Camden and Rockport approved spending $125,000 in June 2014  at annual town meeting on architectural services for the middle school.

    The original structure, the Mary E. Taylor Elementary School, was constructed in 1925. It is a 28,200 square-foot three-story (plus a fourth-story penthouse) academic facility.

    In 1950, a 15,900 square-foot two-story building was constructed. This facility was constructed as a stand-alone building with a gymnasium and stage on the ground level, with locker rooms and a boiler room on the below grade level. It is located to the north of the MET building. This section is currently referred to as the Gym.

    In 1955, a 16,200 square-foot section was added north of and connected to the gymnasium. This facility contains several classrooms and science labs. It is currently referred to as the Seventh Grade wing.

    In 1962, a 13,600 square-foot stand-alone building was constructed. It is located between the MET building and the gymnasium. It contains a cafeteria and kitchen, a library, main administrative offices, and other instructional spaces. This is the Andrews Wing.

    In 1965, a 5,400 square-foot wing was connected to the west side of the 1955 section. This facility contains five classrooms and a consumer science classroom. This section is currently referred to as to as the 1965 Wing (Freshman or K-wing).

    In 1980, a 20,400 square-foot section was connected to the west side of the gym and the Seventh Grade wing.

    This space has a wrestling room, classroom spaces, a courtyard, and support spaces. A portion of this facility is below sloping grade (on the same level as the lower level of the 1950 gym containing approximately 3,600 square-foot providing space for a mini theater and music room.

    This space is currently referred to as the Eighth Grade wing.

    In 2000, four major projects were completed: A 1,000 square-foot covered enclosure was constructed to connect the MET School and the Andrews Wing.

    A second 2,400 square-foot connector between the Andrews Wing and the gymnasium was constructed, creating another continuous covered space.

    An elevator was installed in this connector, rising to the gym floor level; and locker rooms originally in the basement level were converted to storage spaces and replaced by new locker rooms on the gym floor level in the space originally occupied by the stage.

    This meeting follows a survey of the buildings and grounds in summer and fall 2013, and a subsequent Oct. 24, 2013 community meeting.

    A subcommittee of the Camden-Rockport School Board’s facilities committee worked with Oak Point Associates as various ideas were floated.

    That planning subcommittee consisted of 19 staff members and community representatives.

    SAD 28, consisting of Camden and Rockport K-8 students, has being educating grades six through eight at the Knowlton Street complex of schools for decades. More recently, in the last decade, the fifth grade moved over to the Camden campus when Rockport Elementary School got too crowded. The MET building has been devoted to grades five and six, while the old Camden-Rockport High School was turned over to grades seven and eight when the high school population moved in 2000 to the new Camden Hills Regional High School in Rockport.

    For a short stint in the last decade, SAD 28 Kindergarteners were even housed in part of the eighth grade Andrews Wing while a mold problem deemed parts of the the old Rockport Elementary School in Rockport unsuitable.

    Current enrollment at the middle school is approximately 375 students, and the 122,000 square feet complex has become too roomy.

    What to do with the space has been an ongoing issue ever since the high school vacated downtown Camden. Structural problems have plagued the building, with costly repairs budgeted in over the years. At the same time, the district dealt with closing Rockport Elementary School, purchasing the former Montessori School on Route 90 in Rockport, greatly expanding it and moving grades Kindergarten to four to that location.

    And, the district has struggled with attempting to relocate its central business offices and the high school’s alternative program, Zenith, out of the Bus Barn — which was built to be exactly that before it was converted into offices.

    Editorial Director Lynda Clancy can be reached at; 207-706-6657