ROCKLAND, Maine — A number of space faculties might pay for bodily upgrades to enhance accessibility, air high quality and different well being and security measures with a $5 million state mortgage to the varsity district.
Regional Faculty Unit 13 was notified earlier this month that the 13 challenge proposals the district submitted to the Maine Division of Training had been accredited for a mortgage by its Faculty Revolving Renovation Fund. With about 30 % of the mortgage being forgiven upfront and the remainder of the quantity carrying no curiosity, district officers stated it might allow them to enhance security for college kids and workers.
“It’s a exceptional alternative as a result of we now have to do these initiatives sooner or later. They’ve acquired to get executed and to do it with a mortgage alternative that’s curiosity free, and a giant chunk of it’s paid off initially, is nice for the taxpayers,” RSU 13 Faculty Board Chair Loren Andrews stated.
The district’s finance committee will talk about the potential mortgage at its assembly subsequent week earlier than sending its suggestions to the varsity board. In the end, the district’s voters must approve borrowing the cash. If the varsity board approves sending the query to voters, which Andrews stated he believed it might, a referendum vote would doubtless happen in June.
Six of the challenge proposals submitted contain bringing areas — akin to loos, doorways, ramps, walkways and emergency exit routes — at 5 district faculties into compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Act.
It’s common for faculties in Maine to want accessibility enhancements that meet Individuals with Disabilities Act requirements, provided that 600 faculties within the state had been constructed previous to the regulation’s passage in 1990.
Over the past 5 years, RSU 13 has spent about $31 million on capital enchancment initiatives, together with the development of a wholly new faculty in Owls Head. The majority of this work centered on reconfiguring faculties and making extra space inside present amenities within the wake of a district consolidation, in keeping with RSU 13 Enterprise Supervisor Pete Orne, however not the entire wanted enhancements could possibly be executed with that preliminary spending effort.
Moreover, within the final six years the district has seen a steep enhance in its particular training enrollment and the variety of college students who require accessibility lodging, which has dropped at mild a few of the disabilities act compliance deficiencies in its faculties, Orne stated.
“It was one other alternative to see one thing that you need to have seen earlier than however you didn’t have the lenses on to see it,” Orne stated.
Final fall, the district had an architect overview its amenities to find out what areas must be introduced as much as code, all of which will probably be addressed by the proposed initiatives.
The COVID-19 pandemic additionally prompted the district to take a better have a look at its amenities, Orne stated, particularly when it comes to looking for alternatives the place air high quality may be improved.
4 proposed initiatives at three faculties contain enhancing air high quality by the alternative of outdated home windows, air flow system upgrades and correcting a drainage difficulty at an elementary faculty that has created mould issues.
Different initiatives the district is trying to sort out with the $5 million embrace changing flooring tiling at the highschool that accommodates asbestos, and changing doorways that don’t shut correctly at two faculties and will pose a security and safety threat.
“When you’re made conscious of an issue it’s actually necessary to deal with it,” Orne stated. “It simply grew to become apparent that these had been points that weren’t going to go away, that we had been going to have to seek out a way of transferring ahead with some kind of capital enchancment.”
Orne stated he believes he might work out the district’s funds so reimbursement of the mortgage doesn’t have an effect on native taxes.