$51M Hampden high school on ballot Sept. 23 in SAD 22

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 09, 2008, at 8:13 p.m.

HAMPDEN, Maine — SAD 22 Superintendent Rick Lyons and assistant superintendent Emil Genest started their administrative tenures in Hampden in the early 1990s.

Almost immediately, they began brainstorming plans for a new high school, a process that included working with the Maine Department of Education to join the all-important state-supported list of projects.

“The first year we submitted an application, I think we were 97th on that list,” Genest said with a laugh in an interview this week.

Fifteen years later and SAD 22 is much higher on the list — near the top, in fact — meaning Lyons, Genest and many others finally may get their wish for a new school.

Voters in Hampden, Newburgh and Winterport, the three towns that compose SAD 22, will decide later this month whether to approve a $51 million construction project that would be the state’s most expensive school to date.

“This is the chance of a lifetime [for SAD 22],” Lyons said Tuesday from his office in Hampden. “We think it will help redefine the town of Hampden.”

The school has been preapproved for a site off Route 1A that already is owned by SAD 22. It would be built adjacent to Hampden’s existing elementary and middle schools to create a campus for students from kindergarten through high school. At 175,000 square feet and three stories, the new school wouldn’t be the biggest, but its estimated cost would be the highest on record for Maine.

“But this will last us 60 or 70 years, we hope,” Genest said.

Because the state DOE has approved the project, it will fund a majority of the $51.6 million price tag, 88 percent to be precise. The remaining 12 percent, or about $6.2 million, will be raised locally by taxpayers, if they decide to approve the project.

Like with many state-approved projects, the DOE supports only certain elements. Anything above and beyond what the state will support must be paid for at the local level. In Hampden, a building committee worked for several months to identify the needs of a high school, and came up with four areas that it believed required additional funding. Those areas are:

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/09/09/news/penobscot/51m-hampden-high-school-on-ballot-sept-23-in-sad-22/ printed on July 30, 2014