Local comprehensive high school project ‘still in the running’ for state funding

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DEXTER — An Integrated, Consolidated 9-16 Educational Facility Pilot Project involving four of the area’s school districts, the Tri-County Technical Center (TCTC) and the Jackman school system remains on a list of state fudning finalists. The local collaboration is again ranked third behind projects in northern and southern Aroostook County, the same position on several previous rating lists from earlier in the year.

“The state board of education at their August meeting approved a list of state funding priorities and we were included in their list,” SAD 46 Superintendent Kevin Jordan said during an Aug. 22 school board meeting about a letter he recently received with the project scores.. “Now it is in the commissioner of education’s hands in terms of what they are going to fund and a possible timeline.”

Under the Integrated, Consolidated 9-16 Educational Facility Pilot Project a regional comprehensive high school would be funded by the state with approximately $200 million set aside for the program. The facility is intended to serve as a model for the rest of Maine by encouraging neighboring school districts with declining enrollments to work together to combine resources and reduce costs.

The school would offer a variety of academic programs from high school to college — through the University of Maine and Maine Community College systems — and training and certifications in various industries via a number of business partnerships. Similar education models are used in other states.

The third-ranked local collaboration is made up by SAD 46, SAD 4 of Guilford, the Milo-based SAD 41, the Greenville school district, TCTC and SAD 12 of Jackman.

The application for the school units based in Fort Kent, Frenchville and Madawaska along with the St. John Valley Technology Center in Frenchville remains in first place, with the second place project comprised of school districts in Houlton, Hodgdon, Danforth, Dyer Brook and the Region Two School of Applied Technology in Houlton.

“What I heard is they expect an update in the next month or two,” Jordan said. “So we cleared all the hurdles and we are still in the running.”

The allocation of the $200 million is to be determined, as all of the funds could go to the top-rated Integrated, Consolidated 9-16 Educational Facility Pilot Project or be split between two or three of the proposals.

The location of any new school in the region would be determined after the awarding of funding, as a local group would work with the state to help determine the best site for all parties involved and the process would involve votes of area residents on approval. Under a best-case scenario there would be three years of planning and two years of construction.

The governing structure is also to be determined, but local administrators have said that every participating town would be represented.

An early enrollment estimate is 600 students, comparable to the combined current figures for the trio of high schools in the three school districts. A cost-sharing formula may be used to fund the regional comprehensive high school once the facility opens.

More information on the regional comprehensive high school can be found at

In other business, TCTC Director and SAD 46 Assistant Superintendent Dr. Patrick O’Neill gave an update on three new programs being offered for 2018-19.

One is a computer-aided design (CAD) course, Dr. O’Neill said will involve science technology, engineering and math (STEM) components to prepare students even more for after their time at TCTC.

He said a grant-purchased ambulance is ready for the new emergency medical technician course. “It will just be a training unit parked at the school most of the time but it could be used a real ambulance,” Dr. O’Neill said.

The TCTC director said the multimedia videography program will be housed next door at Dexter Regional High School.

Dr. O’Neill and board member John Fogarty are working with Weyerhaeuser on developing a trucking program involving instruction for driving logging trucks and loaders.

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