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Public Weighs In at Community Forums

posted Oct 31, 2016, 7:25 AM by Ryan Palmer   [ updated Oct 31, 2016, 7:27 AM ]

Public Weighs In

October 29, 2016

M.S.A.D. No. 75 recently held four town forums to gather community input regarding the Mt. Ararat High School Project.  Those meetings gave nearly 100 community members an opportunity to see the most recent design of the school provided by architectural firm PDT.  The final elements of the design should be completed in the next two weeks.

An explanation of each of the potential unfunded items under consideration by the Building Committee was given by members of the sub-committees including Mike Chonko, Brad Totten, Brant Miller, Geoff Godo and Donna Brunette.  Unfunded aspects are those spaces or features that have been recommended by the Building Committee that will not receive financial support from the Maine Department of Education.  These unfunded features would either be paid for by adding to local taxes or through fundraising efforts and donations.  Unfunded items recommended by the Building Committee are categorized into three areas:  PE/Athletics, High Performance Building, and Academics/Classroom space.  

Those in attendance were able to offer comments or ask questions.  The majority of questions were about athletic aspects, including the recommendation for a turf field.  Some spoke to the question of safety, and conflicting reports about the health impacts of crumb rubber, a fill most commonly used in synthetic turf.  Several students spoke at two of the meetings in support of turf fields.  In response, attendees were told of an important study currently underway by several governmental agencies.  The study, conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is due out by the end of December 2016 in draft form. For more information on the research:  https://www.epa.gov/chemical-research/federal-research-recycled-tire-crumb-used-playing-fields  Additional questions were asked about athletic features including dug-outs, concessions and scoreboards.

There were also questions about the “return on investment” of additional wall and roof insulation, geothermal heating and triple glazed windows. The Department of Education will pay for 50% of the geothermal system, with the balance at the expense of the local district.

Each item under consideration was listed on a ballot, with choices to include the option as a local tax expense, fundraising item, or to not include the item in the building.  Results will be shared with the Building Committee at its November 2nd meeting.

Brad Smith, Superintendent, reminded the community that all numbers are estimates, including projections for tax increases and cost of items.  In addition, meetings with the Department of Education continue which may change some features under consideration.

The project is nearing final design, which will then lead to the second Straw Vote later this fall.  If it appears the project has community support, the project will be proposed to the State Board of Education in anticipation of a Referendum late winter/early spring.

Brad Smith, Superintendent of Schools

M.S.A.D. No. 75