Dear Families and Friends of St. George School,
In our last update at the end of the summer, we celebrated reaching our goal of raising $1.5 million to construct the CTE/Makerspace Building. We are still in awe of how our community came together to make this happen. What we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time is a testament to the strength of our community and the importance of our vision - to put the trades, technology, and innovation back into the heart of public education.
Last week, a team of teachers and volunteers began meeting to develop a PreK-8 CTE curriculum; this is groundbreaking work that will provide a roadmap for other communities looking to expand hands-on/minds-on technical learning for all students. The curriculum team will work closely with MidCoast School of Technology and local businesses in the trades and technical fields.
At the end of August, we went out to bid for the project and were happy to have many contractors show up for the walk-through and request information. Contractors understood the value of creating the next generation of workers for our community and state.
However, despite the initial interest, we received only one bid for well over the estimated cost of $1.2 million. After rejecting the bid, we learned that the timing of the project - with construction beginning this fall and a completion date of next summer - was problematic. For example, general contractors had a difficult time finding subcontractors. We heard again and again about the shortage of workers in the trades - one of the key issues we’re trying to address with this project!
The other thing we learned was that the estimate for the building–even with our 25% contingency for overages–was too low. Part of this was due to changes we had to make to the sprinkler system to meet fire safety regulations, additional square footage for a welding area and storage, and the cost of running utilities to the building. And part of it was due to stubbornly high material costs and labor shortages.
So we came together, took what we had learned, and used it to develop a plan to move forward:
Step 1 - Sitework & Utilities: We will bid out the sitework and utilities for the project in October, with work to begin in November. This will move the project forward while allowing us to hold off on construction of the building until the spring. Also, contractors indicated that this timeline would work better with their existing schedules.
Step 2 - Value Engineering & Fundraising: A group of individuals with extensive experience in construction projects will meet with the architect and me to see if there are ways to reduce building costs while staying true to our vision for the project. At the same time, we will continue fundraising efforts through grants, private donations, business sponsorships, and the buy-a-brick program. Any money raised above and beyond what is needed for the construction costs will go to programming, personnel, equipment, and supplies.
Step 3 - Construction of Building: We plan to go out to bid for construction of the building in January with work to begin in March. Our goal is to have the building open for students and the community by December 2023.
We are applying for a variety of grants to help cover the additional construction costs, but we’ll once again need your help and support. As a school community, we’ve come a long way in a short period of time accomplishing more than many people imagined was possible. We’re more committed than ever to this project and, with your help, we’ll open the doors to the CTE/Makerspace Building next school year.
Stay tuned in the next few weeks for an update on our fundraising goal as well as info about a December panel discussion with teachers, tradespeople, and business owners talking about the power and importance of career technical education.
To make a donation, buy a brick, or become a business sponsor, please visit www.stgeorgemsu.org. If you have any questions, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org; 207.542.6394) or School Board member Kristin Falla (email@example.com).
Mike Felton, St. George MSU Superintendent