Six schools can now plan for construction or renovation
AUGUSTA – Six schools in critical need of renovation or replacement got the go-ahead to build new facilities or renovate existing ones today from the State Board of Education, which approved a proposal from Maine Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen.
The Board OK’d 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 six schools on the approved list are: Morison Memorial School, Corinth (RSU 64); Sanford High School & Regional Technical Center; Newport Elementary School (RSU 19); Emerson School, Sanford; Charles A. Snow School, Fryeburg (RSU 72); and Nokomis Regional High School, Newport (RSU 19).
The six would be the first schools since 2005 to be slated for construction with state funds. Department officials made 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.
Over the past three construction cycles, approximately two-thirds of the projects have been additions and renovations; one-third have required the construction of new buildings. Sometimes age, condition, safety and other concerns make renovation impractical and/or prohibitively expensive. 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. 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. However, the Department believes it can address their needs without increasing annual payments for construction debt beyond what is already committed.
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, the Department intends to then assess when and if additional projects on the list can be approved to move forward.
Information about the Department’s school construction program can be found at: http://www.maine.gov/education/const/mcip/home.htm.