The School Administrative District 28 School Board approved an alternative contract Nov. 14 that excludes the demolition of the Mary E. Taylor building, and reduces the cost of constructing the new Camden Rockport Middle School by $70,000.

At the polls Nov. 6, 55 percent of voters in Camden and Rockport authorized SAD 28 to spend $4.9 million to renovate and reuse the MET building in 2020 when the new middle school building is expected to be completed.

The MET building currently serves as classroom space for fifth- and sixth-grade students at CRMS. In the future it will house school district administration offices, the Zenith alternative education program for high school students, and commercial space. The rest of the current middle school will be demolished prior to the projected fall 2020 opening of the new school building.

The school board was prepared for the Nov. 6 vote, and had already calculated the savings to the middle school construction budget if MET were to remain. The scope of work for building the new middle school that was put out to bid solicited the base bid cost, as well as cost or savings estimates for a number of alternative scenarios, according to SAD 28 Board Chairman Matt Dailey. One of the alternative scenarios was the preservation of MET for future use, which also eliminates earthwork to create a new practice field on the area MET occupies.

Board members unanimously approved the selection of the alternative contract Nov. 14, which subtracts the costs of demolishing MET and work to create the practice field.

Dailey said School Superintendent Maria Libby plans to develop a timeline for the MET renovation project, to be discussed at the board's regular meeting in December.

The majority of Camden voters, 1,894, voted in favor of saving MET, while 1,271 rejected the plan to keep the building. In Rockport, the 982 voters in favor of saving MET were in the minority, with 1,086 against saving the building.

The public vote secured the future for the 92-year-old building for many years. The $4.9 million will be spent on new electrical, air handling and heating systems, improvements to the building's plumbing, a new elevator and stairs and some repairs to the brick facade. The building's current electrical, heat and air handling systems are located in the adjacent middle school building. MET will be cut off from those systems when the middle school buildings are demolished prior to the completion of the new school.

New office space will be created on the top floor for school district administration. The first floor, housing the Zenith program, will get a new kitchen.

The new elevator will maintain the building's ADA compliance, while the entrance steps will be modified to comply with ADA requirements. Plumbing improvements and a new bathroom will be added to the lower-level floor, which will be rough finished and remain as a large open space to be leased to one or more commercial tenants.