Facilities study to be done for RSU 26 schools

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A facilities study in the months will be done for RSU 26 in the months ahead to help plan for potential improvements to Orono Schools. According to Superintendent of Schools Meredith Higgins, the seeds for the study were planted about two years ago, when there was talk of improving the athletic…A facilities study in the months will be done for RSU 26 in the months ahead to help plan for potential improvements to Orono Schools.
According to Superintendent of Schools Meredith Higgins, the seeds for the study were planted about two years ago, when there was talk of improving the athletic complex. That in turn led to talk of other improvements, such as a new auditorium; those talks subsequently got backburnered following changes in administration.
But they now have arisen again, and the school board is having a facilities study done, with an outside firm to come in and look at Orono’s schools for possible capital improvements and facility expansion and upgrades that may be needed to help ensure that the quality of education in town is maintained.
Recommendations made in that study then will be reviewed by committee including school staff, school board members, and others to see what possible priorities may be. Decisions then would have to be made to decide how to fund any projects that are greenlighted.
Higgins said it is too early in the process to say how much funding might be sought later down the road, or even when the study will be done. Ideally, however, the study could be done this spring.
A facilities study last was done for Orono schools in 2006, when Orono still was in a school union with Veazie. Much of what was suggested then was waylaid, with a band-aid approach often needed in times of tight budgets. The last project of any size was the conversion of the old industrial arts area at the middle school four years ago, said Higgins; the only other major improvements in the past decade involved boilers systems at the schools.
“It’s been maintaining what we had to more than anything else,” said Higgins. “A lot has been patched together. In the study we want to look at two areas in particular – safety of our schools and making sure we meet program needs that are constantly evolving and changing.”
The facilities review will include meetings in the months ahead where the public will be able to offer input, added Higgins.