The Maine Department of Education (DOE) is accepting applications to receive funding for school renovation projects through the School Revolving Renovation Fund (SRRF). The application deadline is October 31, 2022.
The Maine DOE will be able to approve approximately $10 million in SRRF loans. A portion of each loan will be considered a grant and will be forgiven. The remaining portion will be paid back over either five or ten years with no interest. The maximum loan amount is limited to $1 million per school building per priority in any five-year period.
Applications for Priority One projects will be accepted. Priority One projects include indoor air quality improvement, structural roof repair, hazardous material abatement or removal, ADA compliance upgrades, and other health, safety and compliance renovations.
Upon their return from winter break, the teachers and students of Philip W. Sugg (PWS) Middle School in Lisbon learned that their night custodian was going to be out for an extended period of time, along with two other night custodians at the district’s elementary school, who were also going to be out. This left the district with a skeletal crew that was struggling just to keep up with their regular cleaning schedules.
“I’m very well aware that middle schoolers are perhaps the most misunderstood humans on the planet,” said Nicole Sautter PWS 7th grade teacher and 2020 Androscoggin County Teacher of the Year. “I knew this could very well be an opportunity for them that would not only allow others to see who they truly are, but also provide them a much-needed purpose in their life that would bring them a sense of power in a tumultuous time – and that is how the PWS Cleaning Crew came to be.”
Since early January, PWS Middle schoolers have stepped up and volunteered their time after school to keep the building clean: trash removal, recycling, vacuuming, sweeping classrooms and hallways while some staff clean bathrooms and refill toiletries, among other things.
Here is their story:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created many unanticipated challenges for the Lisbon students and staff over the last two years,” said Richard Green, Lisbon School Department Superintendent. “It has been my observation that the students and staff within the Lisbon School Department have always faced and addressed these challenges with a real determination and effort that is unlike anything that I have ever seen. The effort from the Philip W. Sugg Middle School (PWS) students and staff to help coordinate the cleaning efforts within their school as a result of staffing shortages, is a perfect example of this dedication.”
Sautter adds that it’s refreshing to see middle schoolers excited about making a difference. They’re internally motivated and have shown a solid understanding of what it means to be an involved citizen.
“I’m so grateful for these kids. There’s no way we could cover this school without their help,” said Mike Powell, Lisbon Schools Department Custodian/Bus Driver/Maintenance.
“On behalf of the Lisbon School Department, I would like to commend and thank all of the PWS students and staff who have gone above and beyond to help keep their school clean and safe during these unprecedented times,” added Superintendent Green.
The following information comes from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
Schools are critical spaces to recognize and respond to browntail moth (BTM) infestations, to avoid impacts to students and staff. While long-lasting tree defoliation and branch dieback are concerns, impacts to the health of students and staff are the most pressing concerns around schools. The microscopic, toxic hairs of BTM can cause trouble breathing and skin irritation similar to poison ivy, lasting from a few hours to up to several weeks. Some people say they experience itching with fewer than ten webs per tree or shrub; others say they have no symptoms from heavier infestations around their yards. In 2021, Maine Forest Service (MFS) surveys uncovered populations of this insect in every Maine county except York, where it is also likely to be found.
In areas where BTM is not managed, exposures to the toxic hairs peak from late-May through July but are possible throughout the year. You can take actions right now, from February to the end of March, to reduce impacts at the end of the school year along with any summer use of the school grounds. There is only a short window of time to complete these actions. Please consider speaking with your facilities manager, custodians, and staff now to create an action plan.
The following message comes from Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Drinking Water Program.
The deadline for submitting schools’ lead water samples is May 31, 2022.
Maine schools should be working with their local water professionals or using the provided training materials to identify water sampling locations, collect water samples, coordinate with A&L Laboratory, report results, and follow up with plans/procedures/actions based on the sampling results. If you haven’t done so already, your school should begin this process immediately. Instructions and training videos can be found online at https://leadtestingmaineschools.com/.
Testing for lead follows a very specific process. Carefully read the instructions before taking your first sample. Each step must be followed carefully and in the correct order.
The Maine Department of Education (DOE) has awarded $39 million in School Revolving Renovation Fund (SRRF) loans to 30 school administrative units (SAUs). The loans will be used to complete 117 health, safety, compliance, and building system projects at 62 schools. The projects include structural roof repairs, indoor air quality improvements, ADA upgrades, hazardous material removal, life safety renovations, security enhancements, window and door replacements, and water system repairs. A portion of each loan is considered a grant and is forgiven while the remaining balance of the loan is paid back at a zero percent interest rate.
The complete list of approved projects can be viewed here. Further information about the SRRF can be found here.
For additional information about the SRRF program please contact Ann Pinnette at (207) 215-3809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.