Voters in 28 northern Penobscot County towns will decide next month whether to renovate the 87-year-old Northern Penobscot Tech-Region III high school for $2.33 million as part of a plan that officials say will cost the towns a total of $19,281 annually.
The special referendum will be held Oct. 6 to meet deadlines imposed by the federal stimulus bill, which will supply an interest-free $2.33 million bond that will pay for the work if voters approve, Region III Director Al Dickey said.
“We have to pay back the principal [sum] on the bond,” Dickey said Tuesday, “but we will have about 15 years to pay it back, and the savings will almost entirely pay back the cost.”
The plan calls for closing two 35-year-old steel buildings in Howland and Lee and building a two-story, 12,000-square-foot addition to the Lincoln school, Dickey said.
Besides two new shop areas and five classrooms, the renovation will give the Lincoln school energy-efficient windows, LED lighting and R-50 insulation in its walls and ceilings, said Foresight Engineering of Lincoln owner Ted Ocana, whose conceptual designs helped shape cost estimates.
That should create an annual savings of $22,000 in heating oil and $15,000 in electricity, they said.
“From the savings of closing those buildings, the savings on heat and electricity, and the reduced transportation and maintenance costs, we are looking at this costing the local 28 towns combined a little under $20,000 a year,” Dickey said.
The renovation will leave the region with one consolidated, energy-efficient building and replace the outdated and inefficient Howland and Lee structures, Ocana said.
“People in Lincoln have a hard time spending money because they are very [fiscally] conservative,” Ocana said, “but if they approve this, they will be getting rid of buildings intended to be used for 20 years.
“This is the best thing for taxpayers, for their children and their grandchildren,” he added, “because they are going to put their money into a school that’s not going to go away. It makes it a more cost-effective building, especially with energy costs skyrocketing.”
The school held an open house on Tuesday to acquaint voters with the proposal and will hold more public information events as the referendum draws nearer.
Consolidating the three buildings into one will create more conveniences than it cuts, Dickey said. Almost half the students at the Howland and Lee facilities are from other schools and are transported 26 or 52 miles each day to attend programs.
“This distance could be greatly decreased if all our programs in this area were in one location,” he said.
Those buildings have outdated energy systems, while the Lincoln school’s boilers are a year old.
Dickey proposes using $49,000 in unused funds to offset costs associated with the first year of construction, when not all proposed savings will be realized due to the work being unfinished.
Another $10,000 in program reduction and unused adult education funds also could pay some construction costs, which would leave, Dickey said, a project balance of $8,000 in costs for the first year.
REGION III renovation estimated costs
Northern Penobscot Tech-Region III Director Al Dickey estimates that the 28 towns within Region III will pay less than $20,000 annually over 15 years for the proposed $2.3 million renovation of the tech school.
Carroll Plantation $85.69
Drew Plantation $0
East Millinocket $1,285.40
East Range II $85.69
Reed Plantation $257.08
MSAD 30 $942.04
MSAD 31 $3,342.04
RSU 67 $8,912.11
Sebois Plantation $85.69
SOURCE: REGION III