POLAND — John Hawley, director of operations for Regional School Unit 16, told a committee Monday that the failed $5 million bond to update the ventilation and heating systems in the district’s three elementary schools would not have been enough to cover the cost.

“We’re kind of lucky that the bond didn’t pass,” he told six of the seven members of the Steering Committee charged with leading the effort to meet the objectives laid out in a report from the Futures Task Force Committee. He said a more in-depth estimate was been done and the cost is closer to $7.4 million.

The districtwide referendum in May in Mechanic Falls, Minor and Poland failed by four votes.

The seven-member Steering Committee, of which Hawley is a member, was established in September on the recommendation of the Futures Task Force Committee. The latter was formed shortly after the bond’s defeat to look into ensuring commitment to the “well-being and education” of students, including building operations, staffing, class sizes, safety and transportation.

The Task Force submitted a plan of action to the school directors, listing 15 objectives that would need to be carried out within the next six months. The Steering Committee’s job was to provide leadership and momentum to achieve the objectives laid out in the report.

The board of directors will need to decide if the objectives would work best with the current setup of each town having its own elementary school or two elementary schools with reconfigured grades, such as prekindergarten to grade 2 and grades 3 to 6, and closing one school, likely Minot Consolidated School.


The Steering Committee has met twice and discussed:

• Updated costs for the three-school and two-school options.

• Class sizes if each grade level reduced by one teacher; two teachers at fifth-grade level.

• Floor plans for a two-school option with no modular additions needed.

• New estimates on heating and ventilation, and renovations in a three-school or two-school option.

• Steps to close a school.

The Steering Committee is recommending the school board decide on the placement of the sixth grade either at Bruce Whittier Middle School or in an elementary school at their next meeting Oct. 16.

The Steering Committee includes Hawley, Superintendent Todd Sanders, Assistant Superintendent Amy Hediger, Directors Randy Lautz of Poland, Emily Rinchich of Poland, Sarah Robinson of Minot and Mary Martin of Mechanic Falls. Sanders was absent Monday.

The committee meets Mondays in the conference room at Elm Street School in Mechanic Falls.

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