FARMINGTON — A community fundraising campaign for the upcoming renovation of Mt. Blue High School and Foster Technical Center officially began Thursday with a goal of raising $1.4 million by the end of June.
The community funds being raised are in addition to the $60-million provided by the state and the $3.5-million to be raised by the nine school district towns. The money will provide enhancements that are above what the state will provide, said Superintendent Michael Cormier. The three-year renovation project, which begins in September, will create a state-of-the-art facility and state model, the new Mt. Blue Learning Campus.
A Mt. Blue Legacy Campaign Committee formed in October, co-chaired by Carol Shumway of Farmington and Nancy Cureton of Wilton, has raised or taken pledges for $470,000 since January. The amount includes $350,000 from the Richard Bjorn family for an auditorium and stage and $100,000 pledged by Franklin Savings Bank for outside concessions/bathrooms and three scoreboards.
Any pledges from the community can be paid over a three-year period. The money will be used to better equip science and learning labs, art, career and technical education instruction spaces, classroom furniture and performing art spaces. The funds will also provide better lighting and sound systems for performance areas, upgrade and expand seating for sporting events, add storage units for athletic fields, and with school board and voter approval, create a $500,000 artificial turf playing field.
The field, a potential site for several sports including boys and girls soccer, field hockey, football and lacrosse, could also become the site for state tournaments, said Rob Olsen, Foster Tech Center athletic director.
Bringing the turf donations down to a manageable size, the committee is looking for 500 people who can give $1,000 over a three-year period or about $1 a day, Olsen said. Pledges can be given now to ensure support.
Plans for the school need to be ready for submission to the state by July requiring a short-term fundraising effort, Cormier said.
The extras or enhancements sought are in addition to a learning campus that integrates the career technical courses of Foster Tech with the traditional high school education, Cormier said.
The new campus is expected to meet community needs throughout the county for lifelong learning becoming “the hub of Franklin County,” Shumway said. Along with Franklin County Community College courses, adult education opportunities and new art performing areas, the campus will offer an “incubator” space for people with business ideas to nurture business plans.
Potential benefits for the county include an estimated $80 million in construction funds for both the Mallett School and high school projects being started this year along with the requisite jobs. The Franklin County Chamber of Commerce is helping to create welcome bags with coupons and local business information for construction workers coming to the area. While the lowest bidder for the Mallett School project was H.E. Callahan Construction, based in Auburn, many subcontractors being considered come from within a 50-mile radius of town, Cormier said.
The Mt. Blue Legacy Campaign is offering naming rights for rooms and classrooms, auditorium seats, landscaping and plants for donations of specific sizes but all donations are needed and appreciated, he said.
More information about the Mt. Blue Learning Campus renovation project and how to make a tax deductible pledge or donation is available at www.mbrsd.org, click on “Legacy Campaign,” or contact the Mt. Blue District offices at 778-6571.