RUMFORD – About $18 million is needed to comply with safety code, handicapped accessibility and other maintenance requirements in the six buildings owned by SAD 43.

But the SAD 43 board doesn’t have to be concerned about doing it all right now, directors learned at Monday’s meeting.

Michael McCormick, a facilities management consultant who conducted the buildings’ assessment, recommended that a district facilities committee be formed to set priorities, and that master plans for the buildings be developed. He also said more money should be added to the capital renewal account each year.

“The data says whatever you are doing, is not enough,” said McCormick, a mechanical engineer whose firm is based in Dexter.

He has conducted similar assessments for dozens of districts throughout the state, including for neighboring SADs 21, 44 and 17.

The SAD 43 review was completed last spring.

The facilities assessment requirement was mandated by the School Construction Act law passed by the state Legislature in 1998.

McCormick said SAD 43 was far from alone in its upkeep needs. He said the requirements that should be met for SAD 43 is about average.

“Statewide, we haven’t done a good job of taking care of our buildings,” he said.

He valued the district’s six buildings, which have a total of about 300,000 square feet, at about $50 million, with its biggest asset, Mountain Valley High School, at $12 million. The school was built in 1969, and as such, many of its systems are in need of replacement, he said. All buildings except Meroby Elementary School are older. It was built in 1979.

“With books costing $100, not much is going to happen in the buildings. The money goes to education,” said board member Betty Barrett, who represents Mexico.

Although McCormick said he understood that school boards were primarily concerned with education, he said they are also responsible for safe buildings in which to be educated.

“Boards are responsible for providing a safe, sound environment for students and staff,” he said, adding that school boards should treat buildings with respect.

“Districts can’t keep patching,” he said. “You are in catch-up mode.”

Among the items that need updating or replacement are such things as gas turn-off valves, installation of a sprinkler system at the high school, some remaining asbestos removal, electrical distribution systems, and updating much of the buildings’ infrastructure throughout the district.

McCormick encouraged the board and administration to get word out to the public that much needs to be done to keep the district’s building in good condition.

“You are in no worse shape today than you were yesterday,” he told the board. “It’s just now you know.”

Superintendent Jim Hodgkin said the board will decide what to do with the information.

The assessment is being paid by the state. McCormick’s firm will also maintain a database, and updating, on the six buildings’ needs for five years.

 


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