Mt. Abe building repairs sought

BRISTOL — The chair of the Mount Abraham Facility Advisory Committee on Dec. 18 enumerated for the Bristol selectboard some of the reasons the Mount Abraham Union High School facilities should be updated.
Troy Paradee stressed that the building is by no means unsafe — rather, some school officials and residents believe it does not meet the educational needs of students in this day and age.
“The building has seen no real renovation or updates since its initial build in the late ’60s,” a flier distributed by Paradee said. “We believe the current state of our Middle School and High School does not accurately reflect our community and its values. It is time to take our school into the 21st century!”
On the reverse of the flier are two photographs — one of a deteriorating science desk at the school, the other a comparison photograph of new science equipment.
Paradee said the role of the group was to educate residents in the five-town area about the options for renovating Mount Abe. He has visited all five selectboards in the supervisory union to spread the word.
The committee is currently made up of 13 members: Paradee; vice chair Eric Carter; secretary Shawna Sherwin; student representative Alec Towsley; school staff Laura Mina, Chris Nezin and Dustin Corrigan; community members Kathleen Clark and Wallace Pooler; Mount Abraham Principal Andy Kepes; Addison Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent David Adams; and ANeSU Facilities Director Alden Harwood. The committee will also include members of the Bristol selectboard, who are yet to be determined.
Paradee said he and other parents first brought concerns about the condition of the building to school officials in 2011. This year, the ANeSU School Board hired the architectural firm Dorr and Whittier to conduct a feasibility study for $37,000.
“They went through the entire school — it was a very comprehensive study,” Paradee said.
The firm presented the results of the study in three separate meetings, culminating with an Oct. 1 presentation that proposed three different options for renovating the school. The options ranged from minimal renovations, which would partially address building deficiencies, to a more expensive plan that would address all building deficiencies.
The estimated costs of the three proposals ranged from $11.6 million to $27.9 million.
“The school board wants a sense from the community of how to move forward,” Paradee said. “We want to educate people about the proposals.”
Paradee said his group, which has met three times, is charged with gauging public sentiment on the proposals, and reporting back to the ANeSU board in February.
Some selectboard members expressed concern at the multi-million dollar cost of the project, especially with a potential bond for a new firehouse looming on the horizon.
Paradee encouraged residents to visit the group’s website, www.mtabebondproject.weebly.com, or email questions to [email protected]. On the site, residents can learn more about the proposals and view the Dorr and Whittier presentations.
Paradee added that he regretted the name of the website, and clarified that there is currently no proposal for a bond, as the project is still in its infant stages.

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