By Mandi Favreau
As the fall rains move in, it’s not uncommon to see buckets strategically placed in school hallways. Parents may have a little difficulty navigating parking lots marked more by potholes than traffic indicators, or they may notice more signs of wear and tear to the buildings and grounds.
At a time when most school districts in the state are struggling, RSU 18’s story isn’t new; it isn’t even the worst. The core of the problem centers around the reduction in state funding.
This year RSU 18 received 3 million dollars less in state funds than we did in 2010. “ With this decrease, our district has struggled financially,” said Superintendent Carl Gartley. “Facilities always suffer under these conditions.”
A prior solution, proposed in 2010, was to close Atwood, add an addition to Williams, and move all 5th graders to Messalonskee Middle School. A vote made it clear that this was not the right solution for our community at the time.
Solutions still needed to be found, however, and so, a little over two years ago, the RSU 18 Facilities Committee was put into place to determine how to best address the impact these budget cuts were having on the buildings. Over the last two years, the committee has taken a long hard look at the needs and necessities in each of our buildings across the district. With input from this committee, the district came up with several options. The least expensive of these options, combined with the proposed athletics complex, led to the 13.9 million dollar bond that will be put in front of voters this November.
The plan addresses key safety and accessibility issues in all RSU 18 buildings, and each town will benefit from the bond. Approximately half a million dollars is marked for repairs needed to bring our schools back up to code according to the report from the state Fire Marshal’s office, as well as needed upgrades to our kitchens. Other projects target necessities like heating, roofing, masonry, electrical work, and air quality. The improvements to the athletics facilities are also aimed at increasing safety and accessibility for students and community members.
The changes to the high school’s athletics complex are centered on the football field, which would be upgraded to synthetic turf, and an 8 lane synthetic track which would be built around the perimeter. The planned changes would offer a safer and more accessible practice and competition area for our football, soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, cross country and track teams. The money would also be used to upgrade lighting, renovate the grandstand, and expand the bleachers. The changes will make the grandstand much more handicap accessible, and the synthetic track will provide the community with a safe place to walk and run.
“The athletic complex has been discussed in our district for many years,” said Superintendent Gartley. “We all want a facility we can be proud of; our students and our community deserve this.”
There are still many potential changes that need to be considered. Messalonskee Middle School, our newest building, still offers some untapped potential; we need to figure out how best to use this space, whether or not that includes relocating the 5th graders. The facilities committee has determined that spending money on our portable buildings is not efficient; we need to determine how to phase out their use. We are also in desperate need of storage.
“There are still decisions that need to be made if this bond passes,” added Superintendent Gartley, ‘or even if it does not.”
|Fire Marshal Report Work||$398,165.04|
|Heating Controls / Infrastructure / Boilers, etc.||$1,675,000.00|
|Construction / reorganization / Masonry work / Gym Repair||$4,250,000.00|
|Lighting / Electrical Work / Fixtures||$475,000.00|
|Pavement / Parking Lot Work||$683,000.00|
|Windows / Ventilation Unit / Air Quality||$430,000.00|