BATH — After years of work by local committee members, Regional School Unit 1 administration, and staff and students of Morse High School, a finalized design is heading to a straw poll on Sept. 12, at Bath Middle School.

The straw poll and presentation will give residents a glimpse at all the work that has been done to design the future Morse High School, which will serve the RSU 1 communities of Bath, Phippsburg, Arrowsic, and Woolwich, as well as students from Georgetown and West Bath, and be located in the Wing Farm business district in Bath.

The architect, Ron Lamarre of Lavallee Brensinger, and Superintendent Patrick Manuel will give a rundown of the design and cost of the school.

“The topic is to review and approve the concept design, and the budget, and the schedule,” said Lamarre. “We pretty much basically say, ‘this is how much the state is paying, and this is how much the local communities will be asked to pay.’ Then we’ll present what the building will look like and how it will work.”

The proposed budget for the new school sits at $75.4 million, with $7.9 million making up the local contribution. The building plan includes space for 650 high school students and roughly 180 vocational students attending classes at Bath Regional Career and Technical Center.

Local funding pays for items that the building committee – made up of 30 residents from the four communities – decided were worth spending above and beyond the state funding. The state Board of Education agrees to pay for certain essential parts of the new high school’s construction, with any additional items the committee felt necessary funded by local contributions.

Some of those items include more durable materials and design features that could be cost-savers long term, such as more heat-efficient exterior windows. Other items include adding space above the minimum state allowed size, such as in the gymnasium; a larger seating area for the theater; a larger dining commons and a concessions/ticket room. Not all of the proposed items are completely final, and certain items may be removed in the future if the cost proves to be higher than anticipated.

Work on the design of the new high school has been steady since the Board of Education approved the Wing Farm site in May 2017. Current projections have a referendum on the new school taking place in November, with construction completed in August 2020.

Lamarre said so far the reception to the new design has been positive.

“Knock on wood, so far everyone thinks it’s a great thing,” said Lamarre. “Not to speak for the committees or anything, but I think the reception we’ve been getting is very good. I think it’s exciting, a lot of people are recognizing their hard work is putting forward a better building.”

At the start of the project, both Lamarre and Manuel emphasized the need for extensive community involvement in the project, and the more people that helped the better. RSU 1, said Lamarre, has gone above and beyond in volunteering their time. “Most school districts don’t have 30 people on a committee,” he said.

Parts of the old school that were beloved have been incorporated into the new school in different ways, such as the “Pit,” which many alumni recall fondly. While it won’t be a basement gymnasium like its predecessor, the new features intend to capture some of the spirit of the old school.

“We’re trying to embed a lot of the things that people love about the old school in the new building,” said Lamarre.

The meeting will take place 6 p.m. Sept. 12, at the Bath Middle School cafeteria. For more information on the project, visit www.rsu1.org.