Region 9 board approves $4.9M project

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MEXICO – Following months of trying to decide what would be the best building and renovation project for both student education and peoples’ pocketbooks, the Region 9 School of Applied Technology board approved a $4.9 million project Tuesday night.

Region 9 Director David Driscoll said on Wednesday that the somewhat pared-down plan includes 17,300-square-feet of new space and renovation of the existing 23,800-square-foot River Road school.

The project will allow the inclusion of two new vocational programs in early childhood education and automotive technology. It also will permit classroom space for truck driving and diversified occupations to move from modular classrooms outside the main building into the school.

Major repairs of the existing roof, renovation of the interior of the existing building, and construction of an elevator to bring the school into Americans With Disabilities Act compliance are also part of the project.

Driscoll said residents of the 16-town vocational region will likely vote on the proposed project in January 2007.

But first, Driscoll said he plans to meet with the superintendents of the region’s three sending school districts to update them on the plan, and then meet with the boards of each district to explain the project.

The state has agreed to grant about $700,000 of the total project cost and lend another $1 million at no interest over a 10-year period. The remaining $3.7 million would be borrowed over 20 years, said Driscoll.

Also on Tuesday, the board completed the first reading of a proposed amendment to the cooperative agreement that reduces the amount of funding SAD 44 pays for the operation of the adult and community education program. Under the proposal, SAD 44’s share of adult education would go from about $21,000 to $1,300 annually. SAD 21 and SAD 43 would pick up the most of SAD 44’s previous assessment.

The change was proposed by all three superintendents because SAD 44 offers its own adult education program.

Once the board has completed a second reading, expected next month, then the document will go to each of the three school boards for approval. The Region 9 board would then approve the document and the change would go into effect.

Driscoll expects the procedure to take about three months.

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