NEW GLOUCESTER — By a vote of 9-2, the RSU 15 school board on Wednesday changed a single referendum question slated to go to Gray and New Gloucester voters at the polls on November into two separate articles.

The first referendum question asks voters to fund up to $6.62 million for school construction, renovations and improvements on existing district schools that adds a classroom at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School and renovations and improvements at Gray-New Gloucester High School, including middle school buildings, facilities and athletic fields.

If the first referendum passes, voters will be asked to approve funding artificial turf instead of grass turf at the high school stadium fields, at a cost of $738,000.

Superintendent Bruce Beasley said by telephone on Thursday that a motion was made by New Gloucester board member Glenn Mercier to reconsider the board’s 9-1 vote on Sept. 10 to approve a single referendum request of $7.3 million for 20 years. The motion passed 7-4.

Mercier then moved for dividing the referendum into two questions, which was approved.

Voting against the change was Amy Arata of New Gloucester, who argued the request was too costly for the community. She also voted down the original proposal. Anne Rowe of Gray’s vote against change was based on her complete support of funding the entire package that included artificial turf.


At recent meetings of the school board and New Gloucester selectmen, residents complained that the plan caught them by surprise with limited information. It also came on the heels of recently mailed higher tax bills caused by increased school costs.

The plan was unveiled to the board on Sept. 3, but long-range planning studies took two years to complete. Voters funded the long-range planning for the district’s schools two years ago.

The plan calls for upgrades to the district’s middle school with an addition and repairs, along with increased parking; upgrades to two chemistry labs at the high school, including equipment; and upgrades and new fields for the sports complex at the high school, including artificial turf for a competition field.

Community forums on the referendum are planned for 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 6, at Memorial School in New Gloucester; Tuesday, Oct. 14, at Gray-New Gloucester High School library; and Thursday, Oct. 23, at Gray-New Gloucester Middle School.

Reports from architect Stephen Blatt Architects of Portland for the buildings, and from Sevee and Maher Engineers of Cumberland on the fields, will be available.

The RSU 15 website has information on the referendum for public viewing.

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