State selects Snow School project

By Lisa Williams Ackley

Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — Great news was received here last week, when Superintendent of Schools Gary MacDonald announced that the Charles A. Snow School is one of only six in Maine to receive funding for construction or renovation.

“This is really exciting!” Supt. MacDonald told the School Administrative District 72 Board of Directors Jan. 11. “This really took a lot of hard work and effort by a dedicated group of people!”

SAD 72 had received word just that afternoon that the C.A. Snow School is one of only six Maine “schools in critical need of renovation or replacement” approved for funding by the State Board of Education.

Turning to C.A. Snow School Principal Emily Kirkpatrick, Supt. MacDonald smiled broadly and said, “Emily, now the work begins!”

“We will be moving forward,” said Supt. MacDonald. “It is very exciting to have this approved!”

The Board okayed the Maine Department of Education’s “Approved Projects List,” a key step in a school construction process that includes evaluating needs, determining solutions, designing and building. The schools were at the top of a priority list of 71 schools that applied for renovation or replacement.

The other five schools approved for replacement or renovation are: Morison Memorial School in Corinth (RSU 64); Sanford High School & Regional Technical Center; Newport Elementary School (RSU 19); Emerson School Sanford; and Nokomis Regional High School, Newport (RSU 19).

The six schools would be the first since 2005 to be slated for construction with state funds, according to Commissioner of Education, Stephen L. Bowen. Department officials made it clear, however, that as the process is only now beginning, no decisions have been made about whether the schools will require new construction or renovation.

Commissioner Bowen said that, over the past three construction cycles, approximately two-thirds of the projects have been additions and renovations and one third have required the construction of new buildings.

“Sometimes age, condition, safety and other concerns make renovation impractical and/or prohibitively expensive,” the Commissioner said, in a printed statement. “Sometimes the solution for a school on the Approved Projects List may address the needs of a school with a lower placement on the priority list,” Commissioner Bowen said further. “For example, a new elementary school in one town might also solve a smaller, yet still significant need in a neighboring community.”

Because the solutions vary widely and require months of investigation, no cost estimates have been made for the six approved projects, according to Bowen.

“However, the Department believes it can address their needs without increasing annual payments for construction debt beyond what is already committed,” he stated.

The Department also stressed that the decision to begin work on the first six projects does not preclude additional projects from being approved later. As the nature and anticipated costs of the first six projects becomes clearer over the ensuing months, Commissioner Bowen said, the Department intends to then assess when and if additional projects on the list can be approved to move forward.

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