By Walter Griffin of the Bangor Daily News: AUGUSTA - The state Board of Education has approved school construction projects in Ellsworth and Dexter that each will involve consolidating smaller schools into larger buildings.
The two projects will cost approximately $67 million combined and should be ready for occupancy within two years. Both projects received the boardís unanimous approval when members reviewed them at their monthly meeting on Wednesday, board secretary-associate Rhonda Casey said Thursday.
The Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School project carries a price tag of $36,443,847. The state will provide $34,956,123 of the construction costs while the local share will be $1,367,724.
The pre-kindergarten-through-grade-eight project involves renovation of the existing middle school, which is the former high school, along with a new attached wing. When completed, the city will close the Charles C. Knowlton and Bryant E. Moore elementary schools.
Although there was concern in the community when the plans to close the two neighborhood schools were announced, 81 percent of the residents approved the project at referendum last June. The elementary and middle schools will be in separate wings and will share the cafeteria and library. Each school will have its own separate entrance.
Design and bidding documents are expected to be completed by the end of the month with the bid opening and groundbreaking tentatively scheduled for March. The 146,540-square-foot school project will consist of 95,665 square feet of new construction and 47,440 square feet of renovations. The school is expected to be ready for occupancy by fall 2009.
SAD 46ís Dexter Elementary School project will cost $30,587,000. The state will contribute $29,905,000 toward its construction and the local share will be $562,000.
The pre-kindergarten-through-grade-eight school will be located off Fenn Road in Dexter. It will be on a 50-acre site that was formerly part of the Finn Farm, a family farm that has been part of the community for more than a century. When completed, the school district will close two smaller schools in Dexter and elementary schools in Garland and Exeter.
The Dexter Middle School has 235 pupils, Dexter Primary School has 287, the Exeter Consolidated School has 49, and Garland Elementary School has 79 pupils. When the new school is completed, SAD 46 will be left with three school buildings: Dexter High, the Tri-County Technical Center and the new consolidated school.
The two-story building will have separate wings for younger and older students, with pre-kindergarten through second grade in the first-floor wings and third- through eighth-graders in the upper wings. It will be heated with wood chips with an oil furnace serving as backup. Seventy-three percent of the districtís voters approved the project in a March referendum.
Design and bidding documents are expected to be completed by the end of January. The project is expected to go to bid in February and construction is scheduled to begin in April. The 115,000-square-foot school is designed to hold 800 pupils and is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in June 2010.
Commissioner of Education Susan A. Gendron recommended that each school be awarded funding as a Major Capital School Construction
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