Barring any last minute snags, the RSU 26 Board of Directors is expected to vote this coming Tuesday (April 23) on the amount for a  proposed bond for improvements to Orono’s schools.

A facilities study was done last year to help plan for potential improvements to Orono schools, where repairs and upgrades have been put off for many years; no major work has been done on the schools since the 1980s. The study sought to address the educational needs of students for the next 10-15 years. PDT Architects offered a lengthy list of issues that it said should be addressed and initially recommended $28 million in improvements, but school officials recognized that amount most likely wouldn’t be palatable with voters and instead cut back to a working number of $14 million, spread out between the Asa C. Adams School, the Orono Middle School/High School complex, performing arts, and athletics. That working number later was revised upward, to just under $17 million.

At last week’s school board meeting, Superintendent Meredith Higgins said PDT is still finalizing estimated fees and service project costs. She added that the goal was to keep the project under $17 million, but that the board needed a backup plan should there be overruns that put the project over that figure. PDT also is examining the possibility of efficiency grants and getting the town to waive some construction fees, which could slightly alter the final dollar fee sought in the bond.

School Board Chair Brian McGill said the project would be cheapest if all the work can be done at once, rather than scattered projects. He said that could mean work could be wrapped up by 2012 or 2022. He added that PDT is also trying to determine if there is anyway a new bond could be rolled into the current one, which will be paid off in 2026; doing so could save an estimated three quarters of a mill in property taxes.

McGill said a second public forum would be held in May for comments on the bond, with the vote to come in June. PDT is putting together a brochure that hopefully will answer many questions from the public in advance.

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