New committee to review Spurwink School reuse plan

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At a joint workshop held Monday between the Cape Elizabeth Town Council and the School Board, the two groups agreed to move ahead with forming a committee to review a school department proposal for the reuse of the former Spurwink School.

Now that a $4 million Thomas Memorial Library renovation and addition project is complete, the library no longer has a use for the historic school building. However a recent resident survey showed that townspeople would like to keep the schoolhouse for a public use.

In seeking proposals for the reuse of the Spurwink School late last year the council received several ideas, including one by the school department to use the building as a “center for creativity.”

Called the C.A.P.E. Hub, the plan calls for creating a “laboratory for teaching and learning” that would serve as an “incubator for school and community collaborations.”

The goal of creating a review committee that would include both town councilors and School Board members is to further flesh out the hub proposal, including any start-up and renovation costs.

Town Manager Mike McGovern has previously said there might be some funding available to refit the Spurwink School without adding capital costs to the upcoming new fiscal year budget.

Under the school department proposal for the C.A.P.E. Hub, the former schoolhouse would be used to “support a dynamic, multifaceted set of programming designed to meet the needs of 21st century students.”

In particular the plan calls for the creation of space for students to work on projects, including those with visiting artists, as well as providing space for high school students to work independently or with community mentors as part of the Student Driven Learning program.

In addition, the C.A.P.E. Hub would be a professional development center for those teaching in Cape Elizabeth, as well as in nearby school systems.

The hub could also include space for the Open Doors Summer Studio, a program started in 2014 by the school department to provide a summertime literacy program for students.

Another proposal under the C.A.P.E. Hub plan would be to add a small performance space at the Spurwink School, which could be used for events like open mic nights, as well as film showings, readings and lectures.

If the hub plan is approved, the school department proposal also envisions creating a professional quality art gallery for both students and community members to exhibit their work.

Other future additions to the C.A.P.E. Hub could also include a print and publication studio, a living history museum and studio space that would be available for residents to use on a fixed term basis.

McGovern said this week that the council could vote on the creation of a committee to review the C.A.P.E. Hub plan at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 8.

Kate Irish Collins

The former Spurwink School, located in Cape’s town center, could become a “center for creativity,” that would be open to both students and residents. 

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