2017-10-06 / Front Page

Officials to scrutinize school buildings in Cape Elizabeth

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer


Among the work done over the summer in Cape Elizabeth schools was the installation of new lockers and water fountain in the fourth-grade wing of Pond Cove Elementary School. The playground received its first round of renovation and the central staircase got new rubberized treads. (Michael Kelley photo) Among the work done over the summer in Cape Elizabeth schools was the installation of new lockers and water fountain in the fourth-grade wing of Pond Cove Elementary School. The playground received its first round of renovation and the central staircase got new rubberized treads. (Michael Kelley photo) CAPE ELIZABETH – When Facilities Director Perry Schwarz walks through Cape Elizabeth schools, he sees schools that are well taken care of. That’s not to say however, there isn’t some work that Schwarz would like to do to provide a better working, and learning environment for staff and students.

Schwarz, now in his third month as facilities director for the town and school, is launching a facilities study in collaboration with Colby Company Engineering and Scott Simons Architects to put the school facilities in a better place for the future. The study will build off of one Harriman, an architecture and engineering firm with offices in Portland and Auburn, did in 2012.


The technology room, which houses the infrastructure of the town and school computer and phone systems, is a place Facilities Director Perry Schwarz wants to focus on as work begins on a new facilities plan for the schools. (Michael Kelley photo) The technology room, which houses the infrastructure of the town and school computer and phone systems, is a place Facilities Director Perry Schwarz wants to focus on as work begins on a new facilities plan for the schools. (Michael Kelley photo) “The Cape Elizabeth school department has planned on having a new facilities study done within the next year. However, the depth of the study has yet to be determined and will include parts of the study performed by Harriman back in 2012. The decision on how detailed the report will be and areas of focus will be decided in the upcoming weeks,” Schwarz told the Sentry.

Aided by building principals, Schwarz led a tour of Pond Cove Elementary School, Cape Elizabeth Middle School and Cape Elizabeth High School for board of education members, as well as board of education candidate Mohammed Shir and business manager Catherine Messmer, highlighting work that was done this summer and concerns he has with each building.


Facilities Director Perry Schwarz explains the work that as done in the schools over the summer and the concerns he has with Cape Elizabeth school buildings to school board candidate Mohammed Shir, board of education member John Voltz and Pond Cove Elementary School principal Jason Manjourides, during a tour of the schools last week. (Michael Kelley photo) Facilities Director Perry Schwarz explains the work that as done in the schools over the summer and the concerns he has with Cape Elizabeth school buildings to school board candidate Mohammed Shir, board of education member John Voltz and Pond Cove Elementary School principal Jason Manjourides, during a tour of the schools last week. (Michael Kelley photo) Work the Pond Cove this summer included new rubberized stair treads on the central staircase, renovation of the playground, new paint throughout the school and new lockers and water fountain in the fourth-grade wing. The school was originally constructed in 1948 and had additions installed over the last 60 years, most recently in 2004, according to the 2012 facilities report.

“We had some elements that did not meet safety standard. Two canopies – I am not sure what they were used for, they were just there – did not meet safety standards. The fencing behind the playground was completely deteriorating,” Schwarz said of the playground work.

Aside from that work, a grassy area has been added where a basketball court once stood.

Despite a second phase of playground improvement coming and construction materials on site, Pond Cove Principal Jason Manjourides said students are still able to safely enjoy the playground.

“It’s still quite accessible. The way it has been fenced off is completely fine. There hasn’t been an issue at all. There is plenty of space,” he said.

Work at the middle school, which dates back to 1934, included new carpeting on ramps throughout the school, new paint on the first and second floors and new cameras in the seventh and eighth-grade sections of the building. School board member Heather Altenburg said the first floor of the 1930s part of the school, which is susceptible to roof leaking is a vast improvement over the condition it was in last year.

Schwarz has two things he would like to address in the middle school/Pond Cove building: installing a generator and improvements in the cafetorium. Middle School Principal Troy Eastman said issues at the cafeteria, which is shared by the two schools, include bottlenecking as students pay for meals and find their seats in the tri-level space, as well as having enough staff to properly monitor lunch periods.

“One of the concerns I have with this building and the middle school is getting a generator,” Schwarz said outside the main office at Pond Cove. “In a power outage, this building has no power at all and that’s a concern.”

The information technology room next to the gymnasium is another area Schwarz would like the facility study to focus on. The room, which houses the school and town computer and telephone systems, is a tangled mess of wiring and includes both an air conditioning system and heat pipes in it.

Work at the high school, which was built in 1969, included the replacement of 18 windows on the third floor, six new ventilation units in the school, resurfacing of several stairwell kick risers, new carpeting in the band room, as well as a new flagpole by the front entrance and new carpeting and paint in the achievement center. The town and school collaborated on a project, Schwarz said, to reconstruct a fire lane behind the school that “was in rough shape.”

Schwarz said he sees no major issues at the high school, but there are several areas he would like to address, including the small weight room by the gymnasium.

“It is another area we are going to address in the facility study. It is a cramped tight space,” he said, especially when an entire team is using the space at the same time.

The condition of the school and town facilities is something Schwarz takes very seriously because in his opinion, they are something that attracts people to a community. Colleges are known to showcase their facilities as much as they showcase their academic offerings and Schwarz, who has a background in higher education facility management, takes the same approach in Cape Elizabeth.

“I view all my facilities the same way,” he said.

Board member John Voltz said that is a “smart way” to look at it.

FMI

The Cape Elizabeth School Department is about to undergo a new facilities study through a partnership with Colby Company Engineering and Scott Simons Architects. The study will build off one completed in 2012 by Harriman.

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