Officials: Problems still plague SeDoMoCha school

Posted Aug. 20, 2008, at 11:03 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT — Some final project details continue to plague the new SeDoMoCha Elementary School but there are differences of opinion on where the responsibility lies.

“We have some continuing concerns about technology — the mechanical systems,” SAD 68 Superintendent Ann Bridge confirmed Wednesday. “There just continue to be a number of problems.” For example, the thermostat settings in some rooms are not consistent with the room heat, and some wiring in the ceiling was never fully connected, she said.

Bridge said district officials are trying to resolve the issues and are investigating an extension of the warranty. “We’re going to continue to work until we’re completely satisfied.”

Kevin Bowman of Bowman Brothers said Wednesday his company, which built the facility, has addressed all of the problems that occurred through the company’s subcontractors. “These are subcontractor issues that are being completely blown out of proportion and we have addressed every single issue that’s been brought to our attention,” he said. “To our knowledge, there are no lingering issues in that building.” He said the state has inspected it. “The warranty will not be extended,” he said. “Bowman Brothers and its subcontractors have completed the contract to the design and have bent over backwards for MSAD 68.”

Regardless of the dispute, the construction problems are not affecting the opening of school on Monday, according to Bridge. Unrelated to the inside work, there has been a traffic change. All traffic, including buses and other vehicles will enter the school via the second driveway and exit from the first driveway. Bridge said the change is an effort to streamline the flow of traffic.

As for the operation of classes, Bridge said the prekindergarten program considered in earlier years for SeDoMoCha Elementary School has been dropped. This year also will be the last year the prekindergarten program at the Monson Elementary School, the prototype for the district, will be offered. Three students are enrolled in this year’s class. These decisions were based on the lack of funding, and new federal and state requirements, Bridge said.

“The state has changed its position on busing and we must bus preschoolers, and the requirement for busing preschoolers are quite expensive to put into force,” Bridge said. She said busing has been a major consideration all along but now the state and federal requirements apply to preschoolers. In the past, the district has told parents they can deliver their children to the school for the program, but as of next year, the district would have to bus the students in appropriate seats with appropriate apparatus, and bus monitors are recommended, according to Bridge.

A change is planned at the prekindergarten through grade four school in Monson. Bridge said the teaching structure has been changed because of cutbacks and a declining enrollment. This year, the school will deliver multiage instruction which involves a student’s skill level rather than age. As such, Bridge said there may be students from three different grades involved in a group. Because of the change, those students attending the school have been given the option to attend SeDoMoCha Middle School.

“It’s not new at all,” Bridge said of the new teaching structure. While it is not uncommon in the state, it is uncommon in the Penquis area, she noted.

Another change students will find is the new face in the nurse’s office. Catherine Cody has been hired to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of longtime school nurse Sherry Gaudet.

Cody resigned as a SAD 68 Director in June before the nursing position became vacant. Bridge said it was not a conflict of interest because no one knew Gaudet intended to resign. Had the directors created the school nurse position while Cody was on the board it would have been an issue, she said. However, the position was created many years ago.

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