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SAD 41 officials mulling options for Penquis Valley facilities

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MILO — In May a referendum on an approximate $2.3 million funding package for a heating system upgrade, converting from steam to hot water, and energy efficiency project at the Penquis Valley School was voted down via a count of 166 to 111 across the four SAD 41 communities. In the months since district officials have been discussing what to do next, including at the Oct. 3 meeting.

“There’s a bit of a conundrum in regards to Atkinson,” Superintendent Michael Wright said. “In the other three towns it was supported two to one, in Atkinson it was voted down 114 to 5,” he said this result led to the 166-111 referendum result. The combined tally between Brownville, LaGrange, and Milo was 106 yes votes to 42 no votes.

“We would like to do something next summer but if Atkinson votes to withdraw they are still part of this district through June 30,” Wright said. He said Atkinson would be responsible for 10.4 percent of project cost debt if any upgrades are approved while the community is still part of SAD 41.

On the Nov. 6 ballot, Atkinson residents will decide whether the town will deorganize and become part of the Piscataquis County unorganized territories. Another ballot question for the community will be to withdraw from SAD 41, which if passed would go into effect should the deorganization question not be approved by the required two-thirds majority.

If Atkinson becomes part of the unorganized territory, then students would head west to RSU 68/Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft.

“We want to talk about that in more detail and what our options are and talk about that more at our next meeting,” Wright said about building facilities, with the school board set to meet next on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

He said one idea for more efficiency at Penquis Valley could be heat pumps. “I think we will have (Director of Buildings and Grounds Donnie Richards) check out some prices and talk about it next month,” Wright said.

“The Atkinson piece will be brought up a lot in the next few months,” Board Chair Roberta Trefts said.

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