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SAD 41 directors authorize $474,000 funding package for Penquis Valley upgrades

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MILO — In June SAD 41 residents — via a vote of 179 to 135 across the four district communities — approved an approximate $474,000 loan from Maine’s school revolving renovation fund for sprinkler and elevator upgrades at the Penquis Valley School. Under the program the state covers 70 percent of the costs, meaning a little more than $142,000 would be paid back by the district over five years at zero percent interest.

“There’s another phase of the school revolving renovation fund loan,” Superintendent Michael Wright said during an Aug. 2 school board meeting. He said a final step is needed as “the board has to approve the receiving of funds by the Maine Municipal Bond Bank.”

Once the formal OK was given by the directors, Wright said the district costs for the sprinkler and elevator upgrades would be about $28,000 annually over a half decade. “The idea is the work would start next July,” he said. “We would start paying a year after the loan closes which would probably be a year from this month.”

The superintendent said the capital improvement committee would be meeting soon to discuss a $2.1 million quality zone academy bond (QZAB) from the U.S. Department of Education, which also has a 0 percent interest rate with the principal to be paid back in 25 years. A decision on QZAB bond would need to be made by the end of the year, and ideas discussed at previous SAD 41 meetings include converting the heating system at Penquis Valley from steam to hot water and making other energy-efficiency upgrades.

The district is also looking at an even larger project to bring the elementary students over from Brownville and Milo Elementary to the Penquis Valley complex for SAD 41 students to all be housed on one campus. The district has applied to the Maine Department of Education’s major capital school construction project fund for a $7 million two-story elementary wing on the Sebec River side of the building. The application status could be learned by late 2018.

In other business, shortly before adjournment Board Chair Arthur Herbest said he had one more item of business. Herbest said that after five and a half years he felt he could no longer adequately represent Brownville on the school board and he would be resigning effective once the Aug. 2 meeting concluded. Herbest thanked his fellow board members and the SAD 41 administrators, wanting to particularly thank Wright.

After Herbest’s resignation was accepted, Roberta Trefts was elected as the new chair and Leon Farrar Jr. was elected as vice chair.

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