SAD 21 unveils school plans

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DIXFIELD – Plans to ensure that ground is broken this autumn for a SAD 21 elementary school came a step closer Monday night when a public hearing was held for state Department of Environmental Protection permits.

A handful of landowners whose property abuts the 35-acre site along state Route 108 turned out to hear presentations by engineer Bill Hoffman of the South Portland firm of DeLuca Hoffman Associates Inc. and architect Bob Curtis of the Portland Design Team.

Permits must be secured for natural resource protection and site-location development.

Plans are to build a new school to house 380 pupils who attended the former Canton Elementary School, which recently closed, and the existing Peru and Dixfield elementary schools as well as launch a pre-kindergarten program. Tentative completion is set for July 2008, said Superintendent Thomas Ward.

Hoffman said about 18,000 feet of wetlands exist on the 35-acre parcel.

The school, expected to cost $14 million, would include 24 regular classrooms, an enclosed playground for an expected 50 to 60 pre-kindergarten children, a gymnasium, stage, some smaller classrooms and administrative offices.

Parking for nearly 100 vehicles, including 16 for parents to pick-up or drop off students, is planned, as are two playgrounds. An additional lane would be built along a section of Route 108 near the school to allow for turning traffic.

The district is also waiting for results of a preliminary survey of the site by the University of Maine at Farmington for the possible presence of American Indian artifacts. Hoffman said he will know whether such archaeological remnants exist by May 15, which is also the date the DEP applications must be filed. Those with questions about the DEP application process may direct them to DeLuca Hoffman Associates at 775-1121. Copies of the applications will also be available at the Peru Town Office after May 15.

Bids are expected to go out by the end of July, and the contract awarded for construction by the end of August, said Ward.

He said the Dixfield Elementary School will become a multi-use building once the new school is completed. He said four classrooms will be used to offer elective courses for Dirigo High School students, the gym will house the Wellness Center, which has fitness equipment set up at the Richardson Hollow building on Pine Street now, and other offices or classrooms will be used for the central office, special education, food service and grant writers. The high school alternative education program, which is also housed at Richardson Hollow, will be relocated there, as well. And, said Ward, the need for most of the district’s modular classrooms will be eliminated.

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