SAD 41 has potential funding opportunities for school renovations

By Stuart Hedstrom
Staff Writer

MILO — Last month the SAD 41 board of directors opted to delay an approximate $10 million school construction project, with no timetable set to resume, based on the concept of a 25-year plan to address the facility needs in the district with pre-kindergarten through grade 12 all being housed at the Penquis Valley School campus. During a July 13 meeting of the school board, Superintendent Michael Wright said funds may be available to make some of improvements that have been discussed as part of of the school construction project.

Wright said he recently received a letter from the state indicating SAD 41 has been approved for a $2.1 million quality zone academy bond (QZAB). QZAB funds for building renovations come with a 0 percent interest rate and the borrowing district pays the principal back in 25 years.

“It would mean $700,000 or $800,000 could be saved,” Wright said, saying SAD 41 applied for a QZAB loan in the midst of the school construction project planning. He said the project includes about $2.15 million worth of renovations, including window and door replacements and upgrades to the heating system.

“They approved us for the bulk of the renovations of the project,” Wright said, saying districts awarded QZAB monies need to use the funds within three years. He said recipients need a business partner to provide an in-kind match, and the district has already spoken with the non-profit Pulling for Kids Foundation of Kansas about this.

Wright said the state is making more monies available through its School Revolving Renovation Fund program. Districts are able to apply for funds and — like the QZAB program — depending on economic factors only have to pay back a portion of the awarded amount.

SAD 46 in the Dexter-area was approved for $685,600 from the School Revolving Renovation Fund earlier in the year to fix a roof at Dexter Regional High School. The district had 70 percent of the costs forgiven, needing to only pay $205,680 over 10 years — $20,568 annually — at 0 percent interest.

“We’re just starting on the paperwork on that and I’m not sure where we’re going to go as a district,” Wright said as the school board will have more discussions on the QZAB and School Revolving Renovation Fund opportunities.

Board Chair Arthur Herbest said the $2.1 million in QZAB funds were approved based on the school construction project, and the directors will need to discuss funding the rest of the work if the project is to continue.

Board member Bob Ade suggested holding a workshop with the select boards of Atkinson, Brownville, LaGrange and Milo to examine the project costs. Herbest said he and Wright would look into holding such a session.

In other business, the directors accepted the resignation of Penquis Valley Assistant Principal Bill Vigue. In a letter to the board Vigue, who had been at Penquis Valley for two years, said he was leaving to take a similar position in SAD 53 in Pittsfield to be closer to home.

The July 13 meeting enabled several new administrators to introduce themselves to the school board.

AOS 43 Assistant Superintendent/Director of Curriculum Meredith Higgins said, “I’ve been on the job two weeks, and I’ve been getting to know where we stand as a district and as an AOS.” She said she has worked in education for 24 years in both Maine and her native Florida.

“I enjoy this kind of work, it’s my favorite kind of work — curriculum,” Higgins said.

“I’m really thrilled to be hired and on board in this district,” Director of Student Services Lori Prestridge said. “This is day 18 and the staff here have been very welcoming and supportive.”

Prestridge said she has worked in the educational field for 36 years. For the last 15 years she was the special education director at the Mountain View Youth Development Center in Charleston.

The board also approved the appointments of the fall soccer head coaches. Jason Mills and Dawn McLaughlin will be leading the high school boys and girls squads respectively and Crystal Cail and Erin Weston will be the middle school boys and girls head soccer coaches.

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