PERU – The $14 million elementary school construction project is on budget and ahead of schedule.

SAD 21 directors and administrators couldn’t be happier.

The board, along with administrators and the project’s contractors and architects, toured the school Monday night before the regular board meeting.

“It’s wonderful. There’s more space, enough for all the programs,” said Kathy Richards, principal of Dixfield Elementary School and future principal of the new elementary school.

The only concern she had is youngsters getting used to two floors. At Dixfield, everything is on one floor.

The 64,000-square-foot school will serve prekindergarten through grade two on the first floor and grades three to five on the second floor.

The first floor also has a gymnasium that will seat 500 to 600 people and a cafeteria that will seat about 120. In between the two open spaces is a stage with curtain on the cafeteria side, and a folding wall on the gym side, that will connect them.

Longtime Dixfield school board member Leslie Skibitsky was one of many who were impressed with what they had seen.

“It’s awesome. The first floor is very impressive. Everything is state-of-the art,” she said.

Board Chairman Ben McCollister of Canton agreed. “It’s impressive, on target and a beautiful building,” he said.

Langford and Low of Portland are the general contractors and the Portland Design Team is the architect.

Later, they heard a presentation by Portland Design Team interior decorator Suzanne Morin, who described the color themes, which will be largely earth tones of brownish and green, and natural wood, with splashes of color.

Classes are expected to begin at the school next autumn. Children from Dixfield Elementary, fifth-graders at Dirigo Middle School, and pupils at Peru Elementary will move into the building. A pupil population of about 375 is expected.

The school is about 48 percent complete, and about 54 percent of the $11.1 million set aside for the project has been spent, said Lyndon Keck, Portland Design Team architect.

Superintendent Tom Ward said the district is applying to the Maine Arts Commission for the 1 percent for art program. He said about $50,000 will be available for art. The district will advertise for proposals later in the fall. The artist will work with a committee on the art project.

The state is paying for the school.

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