RSU 10 releases preliminary report on school buildings

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DIXFIELD — The Regional School Unit 10 administration released a two-page document this week that outlines goals and a timeline for the potential restructuring, and possible closure, of some of the district’s 10 school buildings.

The report is the result of a six- to eight-month survey of each building by an ad hoc Buildings and Grounds Committee, as well as by architect Bob Howe of the Portland architectural group of HKTA.

The appointment of the committee and any subsequent action are part of a long-term plan to become more efficient and to reduce costs in the 12-town district.

The architect assessed each building for capacity, structure, maintenance needs and renovation needs, and created several scenarios of building reconfigurations that could meet the long-term needs of the district. He is calculating costs for some of the possible options.

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The committee inspected every aspect of each building, including classrooms, kitchens, gymnasiums, boiler rooms, roofs and other areas. Using a rating scale based on industry standards, the committee assessed each building.

Details on the committee’s and architect’s findings and possible recommendations will not be presented publicly until late winter or the spring of 2015, according to the report issued by Superintendent Craig King.

RSU 10 educates about 2,600 students from Rumford, Mexico, Roxbury, Byron, Canton, Carthage, Peru, Dixfield, Hanover, Buckfield, Hartford and Sumner. The student population has decreased by at least 400 since the school unit was formed four years ago.

The committee will continue to meet with Howe to identify several buildings that could be reconfigured to make better use of resources.

Once the report is made public, RSU 10 directors will hold several public forums to discuss the findings, hear opinions from Howe, gather public input, and compare and contrast the various options with the public.

The board will seek voter approval, and if successful, develop a plan for local, state, federal or other funding for the work.

King, the school board and others have frequently indicated that the seemingly high annual operating budget for the district is caused, at least partially, by the number of buildings that must be maintained.

To cut the 2014-15 budget, 44 full- and part-time positions were eliminated.

Building Committee members are board members Judy Boucher, Byron; Jerry Wiley, Buckfield; Denise Cross, Roxbury; Bruce Ross, Dixfield; Lolisa Windover, Peru; Brad Gallant, Rumford; Michelle Casey, Buckfield; Peter DeFilipp, Mexico; district business manager Mary Dailey; Buildings and Grounds director and assistant director Ken Robbins and Jonathan Chalmers; and King.

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