By Diana Bowley of the Bangor Daily News - DEXTER - In a 199-12 straw vote Thursday, SAD 46 residents endorsed a proposed energy-efficient kindergarten through grade eight school that mixes tradition and innovation.
The school project that incorporates a wood-chip boiler with a backup oil boiler and classroom wings that are splayed to take advantage of north-south sunlight will next be presented to the state Board of Education for concept plan approval on Feb. 14.
Once that blessing has been conveyed, the entire building project will need the final OK from district residents during a March 27 referendum vote.
"It was a very upbeat and positive meeting," SAD 46 Superintendent Kevin Jordan said of Thursday’s public hearing and straw vote.
Jordan told residents that the state will fund the bulk of the $30 million cost of the new school, with the local share pegged at $562,000. Of the local amount, $173,000 is for land acquisition and the construction of a pole barn to replace a barn to be removed from the property, and $289,000 is for the construction of an bigger gymnasium. The proposed 102-foot-long, 82-foot-wide gymnasium will allow two sets of sports teams to practice at the same time, so pupils can return home earlier, according to Jordan. It also provides more seating capacity for school and community functions.
As for the remaining $100,000 earmarked for a wellness center for the school, it was announced at the meeting that those funds will be contributed by Plummer Memorial Foundation.
"It’s an unbelievable donation," Jordan said.
The Plummer Memorial Foundation, an organization that formed after the local hospital closed years ago, uses the interest from Medicare and Medicaid money reimbursed after the hospital closed and gifts through wills for the health and welfare of district residents.
While the foundation has made significant donations over the years to hospitals in Dover-Foxcroft and Pittsfield and to Pine Tree Hospice, this gift will benefit "Dexter proper," Richard Pfirman of the foundation said Friday. Pfirman, who also serves on the SAD 46 utilization and space committee, said the wellness center will be integrated into classroom activities, and will be available for use by local residents.
Enthusiastic about the proposed new school, Pfirman said school officials have proposed the most energy-efficient school they could.
Once constructed, they plan to compete for a national energy award that includes a sizeable cash prize, he said.
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